À:lmèlhàwtxw Early Education Centre supervisor Jenn Carman (left) speaks with Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen on June 29, 2018 during Chen’s visit to Chilliwack. . Paul Henderson / The Progress

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

The provincial government is rolling out 421 new childcare spaces in the Fraser Valley.

This brings the total number of new affordable childcare facilities in the region to just under 800 since the Childcare BC New Spaces Fund was created in the summer of 2018.

More than 10,400 of these spaces have been created in B.C. in the past 15 months – a move towards universal childcare that the government is calling “one of the largest social policy changes in B.C.’s history.”

These spaces – 88 spaces at two facilities in Aldergrove, 111 spaces at two facilities in Abbotsford, 105 spaces at one facility in Chilliwack, 36 spaces at one facility in Lake Errock and 81 spaces at two facilities in Langley – are offering childcare at a reduced rate for parents.

“As a mom with a young child, I have struggled with my own childcare as well,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care.

“I know how hard it is to find infant/toddler care; the wait lists are incredibly long. Some parents put their kids on over a dozen wait lists even before their child is born.”

The attention to early childhood development and family childcare is an area that was neglected for over a decade in the province, said Chen.

“We really want to walk away from a patchwork approach that you just fund things here and there,” Chen said. “We want to make sure we do a systematic change to build a foundation to an inclusive universal system that every family can have access to.”

Since B.C.’s NDP took office in 2017, child welfare spending has increased from $1.4 billion to close to $2 billion in their budget – an increase of almost 45 per cent.

The spending provides benefits for families earning under $110,000, along with the reduced fees at licensed childcare facilities.

“Whenever I travel [to the Fraser Valley] to meet with local parents, stakeholders and providers, there is a huge demand for families to be able to access childcare services,” Chen said.

“Infant/toddler spaces is in the highest need, the licensing requirement is higher… and there is a [staff] shortage.”

The province is trying to make sure there are enough staff to fill these new childcare spaces being created as shortages in the field are very real.

During the application process, providers have to present a plan on how they will be able to recruit staff, Chen said.

“Early childhood educators have really been struggling with a lack of support and low wages… This is a sector that is predominantly 97 per cent women,” Chen said. “The struggles are huge. Many of them leave the sector just after a few years, even though they have great credentials as early childhood educators.

“A lot of them don’t even make a living wage.”

In 2018, the province created over a dozen new initiatives to focus on better training, education and compensation for these workers.

So far these childcare workers’ wages have been topped off with an additional dollar, with another dollar coming in April 2020. The province has invested more than $13 million for wage increases for over 10,000 ECEs, with $1.2 million finding its way to hands in the Fraser Valley.

Chen acknowledges the small increase is only a start.

“We know that’s a huge challenge,” she said. “We know $2 is only a start – it’s limited – but this is definitely the first time the provincial government has taken important steps to address the workforce challenge and make sure it’s not just patchwork.”

These initiatives also include 5,400 bursaries for post-secondary students entering ECE, and for people also already working in the field who may need to upgrade their training.

The training will also allow for practicums to get students in the field and earning money faster.

“A lot of people pay a lot of money to go through those programs,” Chen said. “They are proud to be an ECE… that is why we’re trying to support our education, to make sure it’s more affordable as they go through the training.”

The provincial government says their Childcare BC plan has helped parents in the Fraser Valley save more than $35 million through the Affordable Child Care Benefit and Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative.

“I want to emphasize that this is only part of our Childcare BC plan…. We are bringing a $10 a day [voucher] already to over 23,000 families,” Chen said.

“All of [these programs] work hand in hand.”

RELATED: B.C. mom starts support group to amplify voices of families facing daycare shortage

RELATED: B.C. boosts funding to help communities buy land for daycares

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fort Langley association tries to get trucks out of village

A petition calling on the Township to divert truck traffic gathered hundreds of signatures

Budget impact on Langley – climate, safety, and eventually, transit

Langley Township’s mayor talked about possible local impacts

West Fine Art Show honours the legacy of Langley artist Peter Ewart

Upcoming show, which benefits the Langley School District Foundation, will run March 6 to 8

Proposed 6.67% tax increase to be considered at Langley City council meeting

City to borrow $10 million a year over the next five years to prepare for the arrival of SkyTrain

Kodiaks stand unbeaten in junior hockey playoffs

Aldergrove advances to second round despite the loss and gain of crucial players

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

B.C.’s soda drink tax will help kids lose weight, improve health, says doctor

Dr. Tom Warshawski says studies show sugary drinks contribute to obesity

A&W employees in Ladysmith get all-inclusive vacation for 10 years of service

Kelly Frenchy, Katherine Aleck, and Muriel Jack are headed on all-expenses-paid vacations

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett says they can be in Smithers Thursday

UPDATE: TransLink gets injunction ahead of pipeline, Indigenous rights protest

The protest rally is in opposition to the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain pipeline projects

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

Mysterious bang booms over Sumas Mountain once again

Police unsure of source, quarry companies say, ‘not us’

First case of COVID-19 in B.C. has fully recovered, health officer says

Three other cases are symptom-free and expected to test negative soon

Most Read