Open Letter to Linda Reid from Opposition MLA, Claire Trevena, New Democrat Child Care Critic

Honourable Linda Reid
Minister of State for Childcare
Room 29
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

Dear Minister Reid,

I am appalled by the recent announcement of cuts made by you as Minister to the already under resourced child care sector. At a time when the Province has a budget surplus, is faced with labour shortages – and when the Premier’s own Progress Board has highlighted the need for government to invest in child care – your ministry attacks it.

This is yet another example of the BC Liberal government failing BC families. When the federal government eliminated the Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) agreement, Premier Campbell was silent. Now, instead of providing leadership and helping families, your government has decided to move backward to pre-ELCC funding levels and pass on the cuts to parents.

As a result of your government’s decision to cut childcare funding, centres are threatened with closure, while others are forced to raise their fees. And instead of providing leadership, you are on record as Minister of State for Childcare suggesting that parents should save money to make up for these funding cuts.

This new increase in costs will leave many parents in a position of having to take their children out of quality childcare and resorting to makeshift arrangements, including creating latch-key kids. Or some parents will inevitably leave the workforce because they will spend more on their child care than they receive as income.

The claim that the Province cannot afford to make up the shortfall left by the lack of federal funding is baseless and misleading. Not only does the Province have a budget surplus, but money invested in childcare is money invested in the economy. Quality, accessible and affordable childcare makes it possible for parents to participate in the workforce, and this is especially important at times of high labour shortages such as BC is now experiencing.

And at the same time as parents are forced to pay higher fees, your government is also cutting funding to Child Care Referral and Resource centres to such an extent that most believe they will have to close. These are the centres which parents rely on to find childcare and get help with subsidies and that also support all forms of childcare programs; provide training for childcare workers, organize resource libraries, and perform the important role of monitoring childcare provisions.

In fact, your government has relied heavily on these centres to extend and improve unregulated childcare in BC. It was only little more than a year ago that your ministry was encouraging these CCRRs to expand, to move into storefront locations, and increase their outreach.

With this encouragement from your government, many centres did expand – with a financial cost, but with great success; the CCRR’s annual report for last year shows a 56 percent increase in consultations with parents, thousands of parents received information and training, and there was a substantial increase in the use of the resources these centres provide. They further provide training and monitoring for thousands of childcare workers and centres, and resources to ensure that those centres can run well.

Yet after expanding these centres, your ministry is now cutting their funding, and telling them that it will buy out leases on offices, vehicles, cover severance pay, and reclaim capital equipment. In effect, the ministry responsible for childcare is paying for a crucial part of childcare work to stop.

Investing in child care is not a luxury. If we want to have the healthiest, most literate and educated province we need to make sure that BC’s children get a good start and as all the research shows, quality, affordable and accessible childcare is a key component in ensuring that strong start. If we want to have a healthy economy, we need to make sure quality childcare is in place.

Unfortunately Minister, it seems that all that you have been doing for the last year is undermining what should be one of our province’s economic and social foundations. It is no doubt because of your government’s appalling record on childcare, and your own lack of leadership as Minister that the childcare community is now calling for your resignation.

Claire Trevena, MLA, North Island, New Democrat Childcare Critic