Tofino's municipal council has axed subsidized daycare and upped its district-run facility's fees.

Tofino's municipal council has axed subsidized daycare and upped its district-run facility's fees.

Tofino raises daycare rates

“This was not an easy decision to make, particularly with knowledge of what a living wage in this region is," said Mayor Josie Osborne.

The cost of raising a family in Tofino just went up.

Tofino’s municipal council is no longer willing to subsidize childcare through taxation and has raised its Children’s Community Centre’s rates to bring revenue in line with costs.

The district run childcare centre previously charged $5.75 an hour but, under that model, was expected to rack up a $26,000 loss that would be paid for by taxpayers. This hourly rate has been scrapped and replaced with a full-day or half-day option.

Half days will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. and parents will be charged $42 for a toddler and $35 for any child 3 and above. Full days will cost $68.40 for toddlers and $57 for children 3 and above.

The increased rates took effect Sept. 1.

Tofino’s municipal council was initially hesitant to adopt the higher rates when the district’s director of financial services Nyla Attiana pitched them in July but, after some deliberation, council came around on the idea and unanimously approved the new rates last month.

Mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly News the increase was needed to keep up with staff wages, which make up 93 per cent of the daycare’s budget.

“The new rates permit the daycare to continue to provide incredibly high quality childcare by trained and dedicated staff, to maintain the building and yard space it is operated in, and to maintain and replace equipment,” Osborne said. “Even if the rates had not been raised, the daycare would of course have continued to operate with excellent service.”

She said council considered running the daycare at a loss and subsidizing its operation through taxation but ultimately decided revenue neutrality was the right path to take.

“This was not an easy decision to make, particularly with knowledge of what a living wage in this region is, what the costs of childcare are, and how challenging it is in the entire region with a huge shortage of childcare spots,” she said.

“Further, it is also not lost on me that the people who are the most affected by rate increases of any kind are also usually the people that have the least voice, in this case perhaps due to the simple fact that it takes everything they’ve got to make ends meet in Tofino as it is.

“Although this rate increase may not overly impact all families that use the daycare, it doesn’t make it fair or easy to accept for those families that are struggling to make ends meet. When your monthly childcare bill approaches your monthly income, as several parents explained to me, it really impacts decisions about working, about undertaking education, and about quality of life.”

Osborne said she reached out to the families that would be impacted by the rates.

“I would characterize most of the feedback I received as ‘inevitable acceptance’ tinged with a lack of feeling of empowerment about childcare struggles in general,” she said.

“This was also accompanied by critical and, in my opinion, valid feedback about the summer timing of the district’s decision-making and the fact that we waited five years to raise fees, which has resulted in more of a ‘hike’ than a small increase in the order of inflation rates.”

She said staff wages increase each year and the childcare’s rates will increase annually to avoid another large ‘hike.’

“An automatic annual increase to daycare rates has been applied so we maintain pace with wage increases, remembering that 93% of the daycare’s budget goes to wages,” she said. “While no one like increases in rates, a small increase each year is easier to prepare for than a hike every five years.”

She said subsidizing childcare should not be done at the municipal level and she encourages locals to lobby the provincial and federal governments for an affordable childcare plan.

 

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

Black Press Media file photo
Tofino sets municipal tax rates

Tofino’s residential property values are rising while businesses are declining.

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Amphitrite Point lighthouse on Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail during a massive winter storm. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet’s Official Community Plan public hearing goes ahead despite push back

A petition calling on Ucluelet council to postpone the May 13 virtual event fails to deter

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Most Read