British Columbia

$10-a-day child care would boost B.C. economy in 3 years, report suggests

Economists says more caregivers would be freed up to enter the workforce, leading to significant gains for the provincial government.

Economists says more caregivers in the workforce would help increase government revenue

A new study suggests $10-a-day daycare gives caregivers a chance to get back into the workforce. (Getty Images/Courtesy Region of Waterloo)

A $10-a-day child care plan in B.C. would start paying itself off in three years, according to a new report.

According to economist Robert Fairholm, a principle author of the study, the plan would enable caregivers to be more productive, therefore boosting the economy.

"By having more children in participating in child care, you free up parents to go into the workforce, or to return to school to get further education," he told host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's BC Almanac.

He points to the economic growth seen in Quebec after the province introduced a $7 per day daycare plan in the mid-90s. Before the plan was introduced, he says the employment rate of mothers in Quebec was similar to the rate in B.C.

Since that time, Quebec's employment rate for mothers has surpassed B.C. levels, he said. And if B.C. had also introduced the plan at that time, there would be an additional 20,000 women in the workforce already, he added.

If the plan was introduced in 2017, the B.C. workforce would grow by an extra 1.7 per cent in three years, says Fairholm.

The plan would also create more jobs during the construction of new child care spaces, and provide more opportunities for early childhood educators, he says.

By 2020, Fairholm projects a $10-a-day plan would cost the government $1.1 billion — but generate $1.2 billion in taxes, with gains widening in the years ahead.

The need for spaces

According to Lynell Anderson, a family policy researcher and co-author of the study, the $10-a-day plan is meant to make it easier for parents who have trouble finding affordable care for their children.

"What we see is too few spaces for the majority of parents that are working today, and too few spaces that cost too much and are unaffordable for families," she said.

She says under the $10-a-day plan, parents who earn less than $40,000 annually would get child care for free.

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan says if his party is elected, a $10-a-day policy would be introduced. However, he said funding for the program would mean the reversal of tax cuts for B.C.'s higher earners.

The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. has been calling for $10-a-day child care for several years.

With files from CBC's BC Almanac

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: $10 per day child care would pay for itself in three years, report suggests


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