Parents for Child Care representatives send two letters to the Prime Minister and other elected representatives


To: ‘’; ‘’
Cc: ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’

Subject: British Columbia Parents Do Not Endorse Upcoming Federal / Provincial Child Care Agreement

It is with much regret that, as a BC parent, I write on behalf of Parents for Child Care (PFCC) to ask the government of Canada not to sign the much anticipated child care agreement with British Columbia. PFCC has grave concerns that, once again, BC will not use the federal funds to create regulated quality child care spaces and build a sustainable child care system.

BC parents have watched over the last few years as millions of federal tax dollars have flowed to BC for “early childhood development”. Given federal Liberal promises of a National Day Care Program – BC parents eagerly anticipated that the significant increase in funds for these programs in BC would result in significant improvements in BC’s Day Care system. Instead, much to our shock and surprise, child care centers have closed, staff turn over at existing child care centers has increased negatively affecting the quality of care, waiting lists have grown impossibly long and parent fees have skyrocketed beyond the reach of almost all BC families. Today in BC, even if parents can afford $1100 a month for one child care space, their child can never secure a space because the average waiting list time is over 2 years. Clearly, the monies under the first child care agreement were not used for child care, or if they were used, they were used with shocking ineffectiveness.

However, after the Federal Liberals re-affirmed their commitment to a National Day Care Program in the last election, and knowing that a new federal provincial child care agreement between BC and Canada is about to be signed, BC parents were re-assured that finally some tangible steps were going to be taken to address the critical state of child care in BC.

Imagine parents’ surprise when, on the verge of the signing of this new child care agreement pledging $600 million dollars to child care, BC Premier Gordon Campbell’s recent Mini Throne Speech, says nothing about child care! Instead the BC government talks about a provincial government pledge to “literacy and something that looks like school readiness – all seemingly lumped in with a vague promise of increasing access to early childhood development – but with no acknowledgment that high quality regulated accessible child care is the optimum means to deliver early childhood development and learning opportunities to BC’s youngest”. BC parents, still waiting for affordable regulated high quality child care, are now beginning to fear that, yet again, federal funds will be used, not for child care, but other programs under the guise of “early learning” under this new agreement. We do not dispute the worthiness of such programs. However, they are programs that should be funded not with federal child care dollars but by provincial dollars.

Canada needs the full participation of its skilled workforce to successfully compete in the global economy. For the first time in BC’s history almost 50% of BC’s workforce is comprised of women – women who need to know that their children are getting the best early learning opportunities in a regulated child care environment. A child care system that can meet these demands cannot be built overnight and it is increasingly clear in Conference Board of Canada and Stats Can studies that the pressure for more skilled workers in Canada is going to increase exponentially as each year passes. The amount of federal money pledged under the proposed child care agreement is not enough to build an entire child care system – we know that. It is however, a significant enough amount of money that, if spent prudently, can begin to seriously start laying the foundation for a sustainable quality child care system that can foster every BC child’s early development and learning.

Given the above, and when one considers the failure of past federal child care dollars to effectively address serious child care problems in BC, PFCC is demanding that every dollar spent under the proposed child care agreement go towards increasing the number of regulated quality child care spaces, reducing child care staff turnover, eliminating waitlists, reducing parent fees and ensuring that all BC kids who need it have access to a regulated quality child care space. How money is spent under the proposed child care agreement must recognize that regulated quality child care is the optimum early learning opportunity and that quality child care ensures kids are ready to learn when they reach school age. Parents and kids do not need a number of ad hoc literacy, parenting and “ready set learn” programs that purport to meet “early learning criteria” just so funds can be siphoned from the proposed agreement under a technical reading of a small subsection of that agreement. For years many programs like these have been funded by provincial ministries like Health and Education. Funding for those programs should remain with those provincial ministries. What BC families need today is a network of child care centers across the province with well trained staff open during hours that can accommodate the various needs of parents whether or not these parents are in the paid workforce, in school or at home. It is these programs, particularly those programs that can accommodate the needs of working families, that are desperately under funded, unaffordable, with long waiting lists and on the verge of having to close. It is these programs Canada needs to have in place to continue to compete effectively in the global economy.

Unless the government of BC commits every dollar under the proposed agreement to developing just this kind of child care system, and nothing else, PFCC is not confident that these federal tax dollars will be spent as intended. It seems clear, at present,that they are at grave risk of not being spent on anything that will go towards creating a sustainable quality child care system that will serve the needs of BC’s kids.

In summary, we ask that you seek this commitment from the government of BC. If BC is not prepared to provide this commitment, then we suggest that you find a level of government (municipal/city) that will commit to the national child care program that the Federal Liberals have been promising BC families for a long time but have not been able to deliver. Absent this commitment from BC, PFCC is very concerned that 5 years from now a younger generation of BC parents will be asking you the same questions about why $600 million in federal tax dollars has not gone towards reducing waitlists and parent fees, reducing child care staff turnover and increasing the number of regulated quality child care spaces. An outcome such as this is not consistent with the spirit and intent of the proposed child care agreement. An outcome like this would simply become evidence of yet another failed government program that could not deliver meaningful, concrete, measurable results and could not meet the well documented needs of BC kids and families for child care. Worse still will be the effect on BC’s most vulnerable kids. Without a regulated quality child care system that allows every child access to early learning opportunities, many parents will remain in the unimaginable position of going to work to keep a roof over their head and put food on the table while leaving their children in an unsafe and unstimulating child care arrangement.

We ask that you seriously consider this proposal and hope to hear from you prior to the signing of the proposed child care agreement with BC.

Signed: Parents for Child Care, British Columbia (“PFCC”)


September 24, 2005

To: Prime Minister/Premier ministre
Cc: ; ; ; ; ;

Subject: BC Parents Won’t Support the Federal/Provincial child care agreement unless BC commits the money to Child Care

Dear Prime Minister Martin:

I appeared before the standing committee on finance on behalf of Parents for Child Care, a few years ago to advocate for the federal government to start contributing federal tax dollars to child care. Your initiative this year is finally putting us on the road to that dream. One problem we had in the past was that the federal money that was being given as Early Childhood Development dollars to the province was being used for anything but child care. We believe that the Province of British Columbia is preparing to do the same thing with the federal child care money.

Parents of British Columbia were ecstatic by the promise of much needed child care money. Even the small amount of money that has already been allocated has been helpful despite the fact it was not part of a large “child care plan”. All the speeches from Stan Hagen and Linda Reid are brimming with promise around child care. Why then did the Throne Speech completely ignore child care and only mention literacy initiatives? Why is early learning and child care in separate ministries when they are in fact one and the same? If the Province of British Columbia thinks the parents of this province will support receiving $600 million for early learning and child care and that the creation of a universal child care system is not part of it, they have another thing coming.

I would rather see the Federal government keep the money than allow it again to be redirected into anything but child care. Child care is early learning and is the place the majority of BC’s children already are. I call on you to protect the dream of a national, universal daycare program and hold the province of British Columbia accountable for how they are planning to spend this money.

Necole Anderson, Parents For Child Care