Daycare funding varies by town on West Coast

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Beggars Checklist published in 2009 suggests local governments should leave childcare services to the private sector or non-profit groups.

Ucluelet can check this box as the Ucluelet Children’s Centre is run by the non-profit Ucluelet and Area Child Care Society.

Tofino cannot check this box as the district operates the Tofino Children’s Centre.

Both community’s centres brought in more revenues than expenditures in 2012 and both charge about $10,080 for a year’s worth of full-time childcare.

The provincial average for full-time childcare for a two-year-old child is $9,000 peryear, according to the BC Government and Service Employees Union.

The Alberni Valley Childcare Society, which operates daycare services in Port Alberni, charges $925 a month-$11,100 per-year- for full-time services for children between

0-2 years old. According to the Ucluelet Children’s Centre’s 2014 fee schedule, the centre charges $7 an hour or $840 a month for full-time services.

According to Charity Focus, an online tool that provides information on Canada’s registered charities, the Ucluelet and Area Child Care society brought in $144,864 in 2012 and spent $129,505 for a surplus of about $15,359.

The district-run Tofino Children’s Centre charges $5.75 an hour and about $840 per month for full-time services, according to the Community Children’s Centre handbook available on Tofino’s website.

According to Tofino’s 2012 Municipal Report, the children’s centre enjoyed a $19,891 surplus at the end of 2012.

The Tofino Children’s Centre brought in $160,342 in 2012 with $123,808 from user fees, $32,159 from grants, $3,880 from donations and $495 from “other revenue from own sources.”

It spent $140,451 that year with the lion’s share being $106,797 for wages and salaries followed by $25,163 in employee benefits and $8,491 for goods and services.

A portion of the $19,891 surplus was put in a reserve to address the centre’s future needs, according to the municipal report.

Tofino CAO Bob MacPherson said the centre is run on a cost recovery basis.

“We are not subsidizing a money-losing venture there,” he said. “It is set up to be cost recovery so that tax dollars are not spent on the daycare.”

He acknowledged there have been years where the centre’s enrollment did not reach capacity so tax dollars were needed to cover costs but he added that taxpayer-support has never covered more than 5 per cent of the centre’s operational costs in a year.

MacPherson said daycare is an important service for Tofino to provide in order to retain young families with two working parents.

“I think in Tofino it’s a very important service and without the district offering it I don’t know it would have been offered over the last several years,” he said.

He suggested the district is charging less than a privately owned childcare facility would.

“We operate on a cost recovery basis the private sector offering daycare would operate on cost recovery plus presumably a profit basis and I would assume that would put them at a higher price point,” he said.

Premier Christy Clark recently denied a push from British Columbians calling for a provincially subsidized $10-a-day childcare program and told CTV News on March 9 that such a program would cost about $2 billion in taxpayer funding.

reporter@westerlynews.ca