What happened to BC’s promise of universal $10-a-day child care? Here’s an update

British Columbia’s NDP government has been promising parents a cheaper universal daycare model for years.

The party campaigned on the $10-a-day promise when it first took power, and when parents went to the polls again two years ago, they were again promised the same thing.

Many have been critical of the slow roll-out of the program, especially those living in cities like Vancouver where child care can be as costly as mortgage or rent payments.

On Friday the provincial child care minister held a news conference to announce an expansion, but told those gathered that just 4,015 of these spaces have been made available since last year’s budget.

It’s more than the province committed to – the 2021 budget promised to convert 3,750 licensed child care spaces to the low-cost model – and it more than doubles the number of spaces that were available in the first year of the program, but it means many parents are still waiting.

The “more than 6,500” $10-a-day spaces that the province is at today is out of about 126,000 total spaces, according to data from a provincial budget report for 2020-21.

At Friday’s news conference, Minister Katrina Chen promised more spots by the end of the year, saying the government plans to nearly double the number again by the end of December.

She said the total number of $10 spots should be up to 12,500 before the New Year, thanks to a partnership with the federal government.

The province has so far invested $2.7 billion in child care programs including this one. There are also fee reductions and child care benefits available for BC parents, and the 2022 budget promised to reduce fees for full-day infant and toddler care by 50 per cent by the end of the year.

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