2,300 new child-care spaces promised to Vancouver families over next 3 years
Lack of child-care options affects families — and especially women, says Vancouver mayor
Up to 2,300 new child-care spaces are set to be created for families in Vancouver over the next three years, the province announced on Thursday.
The promise comes as families across the province face years-long wait-lists for spaces, hefty fees and long commutes to whichever centres can squeeze in their children.
"We are in the midst of a child-care crisis," said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart at a news conference.
"When spaces are difficult to find and are prohibitively expensive, parents are forced to make difficult choices in obtaining care."
The City of Vancouver will be given $33 million from the province to pay for the new spaces, taken from the Childcare B.C. New Spaces Fund.
The spaces are intended for infants and children up to the age of 12 and most will be located at elementary schools, community centres and other community facilities, in a partnership between the city, the province and community facilities.
Stewart estimates that there's a shortfall of 17,000 childcare spaces in Vancouver — and says it impacts women disproportionately.
"Access to affordable, quality child care remains a challenge for many families and that stress weighs on parents — especially women who remain the primary caregivers today," Stewart said.
"With eight women on council, child care is a top priority … we hear it in every meeting."
The promise for more spaces in Vancouver is part of a larger, provincewide pledge to address the child-care shortage.
Since July 2018, more than 8,000 new licensed child-care spaces have opened up across the province.
"Oftentimes, people think of child care as a social policy," said Premier John Horgan.
"But it also allows families to realize their full economic potential … For parents, it means it's a chance for them to get back into the workplace and to build their careers."
For Kate Isaac who works in the arts, is mother to a three-year-old and runs an independent business, child care is a question of building community.
"Vancouver can, at times, feel like a transient and unapproachable city," she said.
"Many families find themselves raising their children in these beautiful glossy towers without the neighbourhood experience that many of us grew up in."
Isaac and her partner used to commute from Vancouver to North Vancouver for their son's child care before a space opened up at a closer centre.
Having access to child care in her neighbourhood makes all the difference to building community, she said.
"The greatest endowment a city can give its citizens is community," said Isaac.