FOULDS: Spend lots now, save much more later

No sooner had the provincial NDP government come through with a pilot project for its campaign promise of $10-a-day child care than the keyboard warriors were online, criticizing this landmark effort and arguing those who cannot afford child care should wear chastity belts — or words to that effect.

The announcement last week was life-changing for families of 117 kids in Kamloops and families of 2,500 children across B.C.

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What has in some cases cost more than $1,000 a month will now cost no more than $200 per month as part of a provincial and federal program that has set aside $60 million until March 2020.

Our tax dollars, locally, provincially and federally, are going to be used in some manner.

The facts say spending those tax bucks on kids in pre-school and the early years of elementary school is money well spent.

When KTW published the story last week, the responses were predictable from those who cannot understand that spending a lot of money now will save even more money later — and likely help those critics in their golden years by having these child-care kids better positioned to fund their retirement.

The replies online were of the “If you can’t afford child care, maybe you shouldn’t be having children” variety.

Having kids enjoy quality, affordable child care allows parents to find employment, which leads to increased revenue to government, which leads to those children’s socio-economic situation improving, which leads to savings in justice, health-care and social-service costs, which leads to those kids being more likely to pursue post-secondary education, which leads to more tax revenue for all levels of government.

A January 2017 report prepared for the Early Childhood Educators of BC noted that, according to Statistics Canada data, the child-care sector in B.C. is estimated to boost GDP by $1.63 per dollar of increased expenditure as compared with 86 cents for the average industry and $1.04 for other provincial government spending.

These spend-now-and-save-later facts are not new.

Part of the problem is the fact we live under perpetual four-year election cycles and trying to convince Joe Sixpack that spending billions now on a fantastic plan will save even more billions later can be political suicide.

The child-care equation can be seen right now in Kamloops with the myriad affordable housing projects popping up. Yes, there are millions of dollars being spent on these housing units and the plethora of services that accompany them. In the end, though, we should realize savings of those precious tax dollars mentioned above.

BC’s Affordable Housing Plan, published by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, notes the costs of the plan are expensive, but not nearly as pricey as the costs of doing nothing or maintaining the status quo.

The plan quoted from 2014’s State of Homelessness in Canada report, which noted homelessness is estimated to cost Canadians $7 billion annually, including $1 billion per year in British Columbia:

“For every $10 spent on housing and supports for those who are chronically homeless, $21.72 is saved in costs related to health care, the justice system, shelters and other social supports. The proposed annual investments of $81.6 million for homelessness contained in this plan have the potential to save $177 million annually in other areas of spending within B.C.”

Those figures are at least a half-decade old and the costs are surely higher today.

If you want your tax dollars spent wisely, if you want to ensure your government pension does not dry up when you retire, you should be bringing Welcome Wagon gifts to all those affordable-housing tenants in Kamloops.

While you’re at it, you might want to hand out keys to those chastity belts so cherished by those who don’t seem to understand the immense value to all when we lend a hand to even one.
Twitter: @ChrisJFoulds

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