Green Party campaign bus is unveiled in Vancouver last week. (BC GREEN PARTY)

Green Party policy still in daycare

Sweeping child care promises are unrealistic

The B.C. Green Party has begun rolling out its election promises as the campaign formally begins this week.

Andrew Weaver’s Greens are doing their best to look like a contender this time, rolling a biodiesel-fuelled bus to visit candidates in most of B.C.’s 87 constituencies. But judging by the early policy releases, their platform is not yet that of a government in waiting.

Weaver has seen the NDP’s giant bet to provide $10-a-day universal daycare, and raised it. Green Party daycare will be “free” for kids up to age two with working parents. For parents who wish to stay home during those infant years, they will receive “up to” $500 a month from the province, on top of EI benefits.

That’s not all. The public school system will be expanded to provide early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds. This will also be “free,” although they ball-park the cost to the provincial treasury for this at around $4 billion a year.

Leader of a one-person caucus, Weaver has not yet entered the realm of realism. His education fantasy will get a cool reception from Metro Vancouver mayors, who are currently pleading for relief from school property taxes that are tied to assessed values, already twice as high as the rest of the province.

With the provincial economy having to shoulder steep increases in carbon taxes, and the oil and gas industry soon regulated out of business, a Green-governed B.C. would have to run its grand programs on taxes from those still here and working.

NDP leader John Horgan says his heavily subsidized $10-a-day daycare program will pay for itself through economic growth. Expect more discussion of that in the weeks ahead, but at least it’s something that could happen, as we have seen in Quebec.

The B.C. Liberal record includes spending $11.3 million in the past year for the third phase of its expansion of child care spaces. That phase amounts to 1,800 more spaces in 30 communities. The province currently covers about 15 per cent of licensed daycare operating costs through subsidies, and also assists qualified low-income parents.

Is that enough? Many would say no. With the cost of land and operations rising, long waiting lists and rates as high as $1,400 a month, child care is still out of reach for many in urban areas.

The province began extending kindergarten for five-year-olds from half days to full days in 2010, and has developed a network called StrongStart centres, providing programs for parents and children to get them ready for kindergarten.

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux has also been reviewing regulations.

“We’re looking at the restrictions we put on child care providers in terms of outdoor space, in terms of sun access,” Cadieux said last spring. “We want to make sure that child care is safe and we have quality, but we also want to make sure that we’re not creating a situation that is unreasonable.”

Easy to parody, no doubt: Come on my little pretties, down in the cellar!

But Cadieux speaks as a realist who has had cabinet turn down budget increases for this and other pressing social needs. They also confront the cost of real estate in places where daycare is most needed.

If you believe there is enough money to massively increase child care across B.C. with no cost recovery, and to pay parents to stay home until their kids are two, you might even believe there is biodiesel available in every B.C. community to keep Weaver’s campaign bus running.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

Just Posted

Langley Township purchases Alder Inn and neighbouring lots for $5.4-million

The municipality has ‘no immediate plans’ to redevelop nearly one-acre in the downtown core

Grey-haired bank robber hit with dye pack in Langley heist

Police are looking for an older man who may be stained with dye

Half million dollars guarantees Aldergrove man a new truck

Aird – a resident of 25 years in Aldergrove – has been buying lottery tickets for “forever.”

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag Monday amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

New Langley bistro caters to board game fans and families

Local food and games at every table is the formula for the new business

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Most Read