(File photo)

$153M in federal cash to fund child care, education training in B.C.

Bilateral agreement will create 1,370 new infant and toddler spaces

Help is on the way for cash-strapped B.C. parents struggling with expensive daycare fees and long waiting lists, say federal and provincial politicians after signing a bilateral child care agreement Friday.

The federal government’s investment of $153 million was announced in B.C.’s budget this week and is part of the province’s three-year plan to make child care more affordable as it works toward establishing a universal system.

“We all know that child care is expensive and hard to find, and for too long it’s been left to get worse,” said Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s children’s minister, speaking in a Vancouver family centre while toddlers squealed and played.

“That’s left too many parents feeling squeezed because they can’t afford to take time off and they can’t afford the child care.”

The agreement will create 1,370 new infant and toddler spaces, help care providers administer low-cost programs and apply new funding streams to train early childhood educators over three years. It will also expand child care for Indigenous children and kids with special needs.

Jonathan Wilkinson, the member of Parliament for North Vancouver, said the investment is similar to what the federal government has committed to other provinces as part of its $7.5 billion child care investment over the next 11 years. But he noted B.C. has unique challenges.

“Just like in the rest of Canada, raising a child in British Columbia can be very costly, and perhaps here in the Lower Mainland and in many other parts of British Columbia more costly than many other parts of the country,” he said.

The announcement had been scheduled for earlier this month but was abruptly cancelled by the federal government, leading B.C.’s Opposition Liberals to argue that the province’s actions on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion were taking a toll on federal-provincial relations.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley had banned the sale of B.C. wines to Alberta in response to B.C.’s proposal to limit diluted bitumen shipments, but she lifted that ban Thursday after B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his government would ask the courts to decide if it can restrict the shipments.

Both Wilkinson and Conroy said the previous cancellation had nothing to do with the pipeline dispute.

“The issue was simply one of scheduling,” said Wilkinson. “This is a very important issue for the federal government, as it is for the government of B.C.”

The B.C. budget earmarked an additional $1 billion for child care over the next three years. Beginning April 1, funding will be given to licensed care providers to cut $350 a month from the cost of a child care space, while a benefit of up to $1250 a month per child will start being paid to providers in September.

The province’s child care crunch is hard on families and the economy, because businesses are losing out on the skilled workers they need, said Conroy.

“Universal child care will allow parents to return to work secure in the knowledge that their children are being cared for by qualified early childhood educators.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Hey kids, we want to see your letters to Santa

Families and teachers can send in kids’ letters to be included in our special holiday publication.

Aldergrove car-jacking suspect arrested

Man had ordered 70-year-old pastor’s wife to get out of their truck

Crash blocks half of 200th Street in Langley City

Police and firefighters were on scene Thursday.

LETTER: Canada should not be selling weapons abroad

A Langley man is critical of Canada for selling arms that are being used to kill civilians.

Langley author pens tribute to the men and women of Canada’s military for Remembrance Day

‘A soldier, a sailor and an airman … stood before the Pearly Gates’

Metro Vancouver mayors cancel Surrey LRT in favour of SkyTrain

Surrey mayor claims he can extend Skytrain for the $1.65 billion already committed to light rail

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin removed and preserved

The skin was removed in honour of the well known artist’s work

Lower Mainland couple missing in Thompson-Okanagan area

Barriere RCMP received a missing persons report for two senior overdue travellers

Vancouver Warriors cancel first 2 weeks of season as labour dispute continues

The announcement means games scheduled for Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 will no longer be played

B.C. Realtor suspended after helping intern forge note about sick grandma

Vancouver real estate agent Jaideep Singh Puri has to pay fine, take ethics course

Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Friends describe murder victim as ‘most caring guy we knew’

Jagvir Malhi of Abbotsford was not involved in gangs or criminal activity, they say

John Horgan shrugs off low turnout, change to referendum option

‘No’ proportional representation group says voting should be extended

Most Read