City council supports idea of $10 child care

Jacob Zinn, Surrey Now

The City of Surrey is getting behind a proposed resolution to make life easier for parents of young children in B.C.

On Monday, Surrey city council approved the recommendations of a corporate report to submit a proposed child-care policy to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) for consideration at the 2013 FCM Convention in Vancouver.

The policy, titled “New Deal for Families,” was drafted by Dr. Paul Kershaw of the University of British Columbia’s Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP). It proposes to extend parental leave from 12 months to 18 months and decrease the cost of child care, among other initiatives.

Surrey has more young families than any other municipality in B.C. If this policy were to be adopted on a provincial or federal level, full-time child care would cost $10 per day while part-time would cost $7 per day.

Families earning less than $40,000 annually would receive free child care.

Councillors Linda Hepner, Mary Martin, Barinder Rasode and Judy Villeneuve voiced their support for the resolution, citing the benefits for working parents.

“It gives more options to both mothers and fathers in terms of an extended leave and who takes that leave, but it also gives options to the self-employed,” said Rasode.

Hepner said this generation of parents face different obstacles than previous generations, such as affording high housing prices with average wages.

“The stressors of today’s families are so much different than those when we were perhaps raising our children,” she said.

However, Coun. Marvin Hunt raised concerns with using taxpayer dollars to fund one niche section of child care.

“Instead of subsidizing a particular business endeavour, I would rather that this was put as parental choice, much like the federal government has done,” Hunt said.

Despite Hunt’s opposition, council passed the recommendations to submit the policy to the FCM.