The provincial government is testing the waters on a new $200-a-month child care plan and Tofino’s Grandma Marg’s Clubhouse has been selected as one of the prototype sites that will help shape what an eventual universal roll-out of that plan could look like.
“I was absolutely delighted,” Clubhouse owner Marg McLellan told the Westerly News inside her bustling child care facility last week.
The province selected 53 prototype sites from across B.C., six on Vancouver Island, which will be funded through a $60 million Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the Government of Canada to cover their operational and administration costs while reducing their fees to a maximum of $200 a month per-child.
READ MORE: 53 B.C. daycares move to $10-a-day pilot
“We are finding new ways to make it easier for families to get by every month and to save for the future,” said Premier John Horgan. “Through this kind of action, where we significantly reduce the cost of child care, we can make life more affordable for so many B.C. families.”
Prototype sites will operate until March 31, 2020, and the feedback collected through the program will help shape the provincial government’s future universal child care plans.
“Prototype sites give us a glimpse of what the future of universal child care in B.C. can be, and are critical as we design and refine our program moving forward,” said B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen.
“Government and the B.C. Green caucus are working collaboratively to build quality, universal early childhood education in B.C.,” said B.C. Green Party MLA for Cowichan Valley Sonia Furstenau.
“I am hopeful these prototype sites will have a significant impact on many families and will help us learn how to expand efforts to build a universally affordable system in B.C.”
McLellan said her 12 client-families are well deserving of the effort being made by the provincial government to reduce childcare costs and added those families will have more money to spend on food, housing and family activities.
“It’s a bonus for the families that all they have to pay is $200 and the rest of their well-earned salaries can go to things that they need,” she said. “$200 versus $1,400 a month is a big difference…This is a huge benefit to those families for sure.”
McLellan said she has been involved in childcare for over 40 years and has been pushing for affordable childcare since day-one.
“I really did not see it would happen in my lifetime, but I’m delighted that it has,” she said. “I just hope it can continue, that it won’t just fall by the weigh-side after 18 months…Keep your letters going to your MLA’s, because it’s really important that this be extended to every child in British Columbia.”
MLA Scott Fraser is excited about the new initiative and what it could lead to.
“These child care pilot projects are a meaningful step towards universal child care in B.C.,” he said. “I regularly hear from families in my constituency about the need for low-cost child care in their community. Our government is listening to what families need and delivering affordable, high-quality child care for their children.”
Tofino mayor Josie Osborne said it was encouraging to see a Tofino facility selected among the six approved sites on Vancouver Island and 53 across B.C.
READ MORE: Tofino raises daycare rates
“I can only imagine that it must be a huge sense of relief for the 12 families affected, and is going to result in savings they can use to make life more affordable, and make better choices for their families with respect to housing, food, transportation and other necessities of life,” she said.
“I understand it’s difficult for the tens of thousands of families in BC that will not benefit yet, because their children are not attending a prototype facility, but I do think that testing a new program through a pilot approach is a wise move. A pilot program will help operators and the Province ‘iron out the kinks,’ streamline administration, and gain valuable learning that will make a province-wide roll out more more successful.”