Letter to the Premier from Parents for Child Care


Premier Gordon Campbell
P.O. Box 9060
Victoria, British Columbia
V8W 9E2

Dear Premier Campbell,

Parents want to be, and need to be, a substantive part of the New Era for British Columbia. Parents contribute significantly to the tax base in British Columbia and more importantly, are responsible for raising the next generation. However, parents cannot raise children in isolation. Early childhood care is a necessary public service that benefits us all and deserves to be funded, like other public services, through the tax system.

Parents For Child Care is concerned by what is happening to families in British Columbia. While your government has maintained core funding specific to child care there are two ways that other initiatives of your government are having a serious negative impact. The destructive cuts to subsidy are causing turmoil for low income families, and in particular for single-parent working mothers. Furthermore, because subsidy cuts are causing parents to leave programs there is a ‘ripple effect’ throughout the system as declining enrolment affects the stability of already fragile centres.

The other issue is related to the disparate nature of childcare funding in British Columbia. The lack of a consolidated ministry program has forced childcare service providers to find funding in whatever Ministerial budget they could. The result is that bits and pieces of childcare funding have been spread through a variety of Ministries. Although we appreciate the initiative to protect core funding under the auspices of the Minister of State for Women’s Equality, this has not prevented childcare funding from being seriously undermined by the Core Services Review.

The goal of the core services review, to pare Ministries down to their core function, acts as a cross-ministerial assault on the ‘non-core’ child care funding spread throughout the government. The resulting closure of child care centres at colleges and hospitals across BC is just one of the side effects. These closures are wreaking havoc on the lives of working, studying and tax-paying parents. Child care, and its funding needs, must be regarded as a complete package and consolidated in a single Ministry with all its funding restored in one budget. Cuts in other Ministries would not then have such a devastating impact.

In contrast to these concerns, Parents For Child Care would like to express its appreciation for your government’s introduction of the school-age grant for centres that participated in the previous government’s funding assistance plan. However, parents are concerned that the introduction of this funding is not tied to reduced fees for families and so does not necessarily address affordability. We are also still awaiting the details of the new operating grant to take effect April 1, 2003. We would not only like to see this plan but details of your government’s long-term plans to address the crisis for parents created by the scarcity and expense of quality child care placements in BC.

The need for such a long-term plan, consolidated in a single Ministry is clear. In developing such a plan your government must take account of the economic argument put forward by the Vancouver Board of Trade in 1999. It clearly outlined the economic benefits of government investing in child care services and recommended that investment in early child development for children aged 0 – 6 years become a public spending priority. This report was based on economic research by Cleveland and Krashinsky (University of Toronto) which argued there is at least a 2 to 1 payback in economic benefit if we invest in our children from birth to age six.

In the first six years of life a child goes through the most critical periods for brain development. These periods help determine future capacity. As McCain and Mustard explain in The Early Years (1999), these years set the base for competence and coping skills that will affect learning, behaviour and health throughout life. Quality child care is central to the success of a comprehensive approach to early child development. We suggest, as does the Commission on Early Learning and Child Care for the City of Toronto (2002), that the division between “care” and “development” is misplaced.

A high quality publicly funded child care system supports the Liberal government’s New Era by providing for increased workforce participation. This is even more important in light of the recent BC Chamber of Commerce paper ‘Closing the Skills Gap’ which highlighted the need to get as many people into the workforce as possible. In short, child care must be a major component of the British Columbia economic recovery and will be a key to its long term success.

It must also be mentioned that Parents For Child Care expects our provincial government to use the majority of the federal Early Childhood Development Initiative funds to invest in child care services for BC children. These federal funds were earmarked to strengthen early childhood development, learning and care. We expect our provincial government to be accountable for the way in which these dollars are spent.

Parents across this province demand their voices be heard and we, Parents For Child Care, look forward to spreading the news that your government understands the child care issue and is willing to invest in children and families.

Yours Truly,

Necole Anderson
Parents For Child Care

cc. Minister Lynn Stephens
Minister Gordon Hogg
Minister Jane Stewart
Minister Linda Reid