Parenting struggling to pay daycare fees are finally getting a break.
They will soon save up to $550 per month, a move by the provincial and federal government that puts their promise of $10-a-day affordable childcare on the horizon.
“To all the parents, I want to tell you as a mother myself, we feel you,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.’s minister of state for child care, during a Friday (Sept. 23) press conference at the Cascade Heights YMCA Child Care in Burnaby.
“For the parents who have been struggling with childcare, we feel you. We understand that childcare is critical for our economy, for our young children and for families’ well-being.”
Friday’s long-awaited announcement is the result of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2021 budget promise of $30 billion over five years to nationalize childcare and make all spaces $10 a day by 2026.
B.C. was one of the first provinces to make a deal on childcare with the federal government in July 2021, agreeing to spend a combined $3.2 billion on childcare in the province over five years.
The amount parents will save varies depending on the type of childcare centre and the age of their child. Parents whose children attend licensed group daycares will save $550 a month for infant/toddler care under three years old, $445 a month for children ages three to five and $220 a month for after school care for kids in kindergarten.
Parents in home daycares will save $400 a month for infant/toddler care, $440 a month for children ages three to five and $260 a month for after school care for kids in kindergarten.
That means, for example, a family with a 10-month-old and a three-year-old in group care could save up to an additional $11,940 a year, according to numbers provided by the province. The government said this will bring down the average daycare fees to $21 a day, down from an average of $53 a day before any government subsidies.
The savings, which take effect Dec. 1., will be on top of the province’s fee reduction initiative that already cuts fees for licensed group daycares by $350 a month for infant/toddler care and $100 a month for children ages three to five.
That combines to a total savings of $900 a month for parents whose children attend the most expensive types of childcare. About 69,000 children are expected to receive the fee reduction.
Parents don’t have to apply for the funding, which is not income-tested. It will be automatically applied to daycares already enrolled in the fee reduction initiative, which the province said is 96 per cent of childcare spaces.
The province will also require childcare providers who receive the fee reduction to agree to a three per cent a year cap on their price increases, to ensure centres don’t jack up their fees to offset savings for parents.
Karina Gould, federal minister of families, children and social development, who joined Chen and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside in Burnaby for the announcement, said the funding will help women stay in or re-enter the workforce because high childcare fees disproportionately impact mothers, many of whom have opted to stay home with their kids as the cost of childcare is more than their wage.
“I like to talk about childcare as a home run. Because it’s good for our kids, it’s good for our families and it’s really good for our economy,” she said.
Sharon Gregson, spokesperson for the $10 A Day Child Care Campaign, said she’s thrilled to see the federal and provincial governments keep their promise on expanding affordable child care.
“The overall savings are really significant,” she said. “This is enough to make a real difference for a family’s budget.”
The savings can also be combined with the province’s affordable child care benefit — received by families making less than $111,000 a year — which means some parents will see their daycare fees drop to nothing.
The province is also expanding the number of $10-a-day spaces to 12,600 by the end of the year. Currently, about 6,500 spaces are subsidized to the $10-a-day rate — including some in Kamloops — but parents have complained that the program, which is not based on income, benefits some while leaving others behind.
“This really is a step towards $10-a-day being the maximum fee that families will pay, and now I think families can see that on the horizon,” Gregson said. “It’s not just the lucky few that are in the $10-a-day sites.”