Green Party campaign bus is unveiled in Vancouver last week.

BC Green Party policy still in daycare

Extending kindergarten to four- and three-year-olds, free child care, paying parents to stay home adds up to a fantasy

The B.C. Green Party has begun rolling out its election promises as the campaign formally begins this week.

Andrew Weaver’s Greens are doing their best to look like a contender this time, rolling a biodiesel-fuelled bus to visit candidates in most of B.C.’s 87 constituencies.  But judging by the early policy releases, their platform is not yet that of a government in waiting.

Weaver has seen the NDP’s giant bet to provide $10-a-day universal daycare, and raised it. Green Party daycare will be “free” for kids up to age two with working parents. For parents who wish to stay home during those infant years, they will receive “up to” $500 a month from the province, on top of EI benefits.

That’s not all. The public school system will be expanded to provide early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds. This will also be “free,” although they ball-park the cost to the provincial treasury for this at around $4 billion a year.

Leader of a one-person caucus, Weaver has not yet entered the realm of realism. His education fantasy will get a cool reception from Metro Vancouver mayors, who are currently pleading for relief from school property taxes that are tied to assessed values, already twice as high as the rest of the province.

With the provincial economy having to shoulder steep increases in carbon taxes, and the oil and gas industry soon regulated out of business, a Green-governed B.C. would have to run its grand programs on taxes from those still here and working.

NDP leader John Horgan says his heavily subsidized $10-a-day daycare program will pay for itself through economic growth. Expect more discussion of that in the weeks ahead, but at least it’s something that could happen, as we have seen in Quebec.

The B.C. Liberal record includes spending $11.3 million in the past year for the third phase of its expansion of child care spaces. That phase amounts to 1,800 more spaces in 30 communities. The province currently covers about 15 per cent of licensed daycare operating costs through subsidies, and also assists qualified low-income parents.

Is that enough? Many would say no. With the cost of land and operations rising, long waiting lists and rates as high as $1,400 a month, child care is still out of reach for many in urban areas.

The province began extending kindergarten for five-year-olds from half days to full days in 2010, and has developed a network called StrongStart Centres, providing after-school programs for parents and children at public schools.

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux has also been reviewing regulations.

“We’re looking at the restrictions we put on child care providers in terms of outdoor space, in terms of sun access,” Cadieux said last spring. “We want to make sure that child care is safe and we have quality, but we also want to make sure that we’re not creating a situation that is unreasonable.”

Easy to parody, no doubt: Come on my little pretties, down in the cellar!

But Cadieux speaks as a realist who has had cabinet turn down budget increases for this and other pressing social needs. She also confronts the cost of real estate in places where daycare is most needed.

If you believe there is enough money to massively increase child care across B.C. with no cost recovery, and to pay parents to stay home until their kids are two, you might even believe there is biodiesel available in every B.C. community to keep Weaver’s campaign bus running.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Judgment reserved in Nakusp school sex trial

Trial concluded today with lawyer’s summations

Former teacher acquitted on two of four sex charges

Judge found no evidence to support sexual assault charges against Shanny McIvor

New Denver emergency ward to remain 24/7

Interior Health says it’s postponing changes to operating hours.

New Glade ferry enters testing phase

The Glade II will be able to carry heavier loads and will emit less greenhouse gases.

Smiles all around as province announces emergency ward funding

$2.1 million to go to much-needed upgrades

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

RCMP nail sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Most Read