Surrey businesses insist parents deserve better shake

Amy Reid, Surrey Now

The SBOT released a Business and Families Position Paper Tuesday, calling on the provincial and federal government for a “New Deal for Families.” The hope is for the governments to address the time, income and service squeeze facing the generation raising young children.

“Surrey has nine licensed child care spaces for every 100 children, compared to Vancouver with 18 spaces for every 100 children,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the SBOT.

Huberman said the SBOT estimates that work-life conflicts among employees with preschool aged children costs the B.C. business community in excess of $600 million per year, and the Canadian business community in excess of $4 billion a year.

“These costs are employee turnover, absenteeism, health care premiums, all of which employers pay for,” Huberman said.

She said the recommendations would benefit the government and the economy.

“It’s going to sustain medical care expenditures, it’s going to improve the labour supply, it’s going to help reduce crime.”

The position paper makes four requests.

First, reform to the child care subsidy system so parents pay no more than $10 per day for full-time children and $7 per day for part time children, and to make it free for families earning less than $40,000 per year.

Another request is to create tax incentives to support employers to develop family friendly workplaces. The SBOT would also like to see the government introduce a healthy child check-in and parenting support program during a child’s first 18 months, as well as research and explore how to extend parental leave beyond 12 months to make it affordable for dads and moms alike, including the self employed, to split 18 months at home with a newborn.