British Columbia

Parents recount personal cost of unavailable, unregulated B.C., child care

Two B.C., parents describe how the lack of affordable, licensed daycare has affected them and their families.

Lost job opportunities, delayed education and illegal daycare arrangements among laments

The B.C. government's Feb 13 throne speech said unlicensed daycares will be regulated as part of the plan to expand available child care spaces. (CBC)

For some B.C. parents, the high cost and short supply of child care has meant lost job opportunities, delayed education and potentially unsafe arrangements.

Following the provincial government's promise this week to convert unlicensed child-care spaces into regulated ones and bring financial relief, two parents described how the lack of affordable, good quality care affected their families.

"It's not to be found. You have to line up for spaces, it gets more and more expensive, it's terrible," said Genelle Schmunk, a Victoria mother of three children, aged seven to 15.

Schmunk, a single parent and student, hopes to become a licensed practical nurse.

It's a goal she had to put on hold when she was accepted into the program in 2015.

"I had to give that up because I couldn't find affordable child care or after-school care," she told On the Island host Gregor Craigie. "I would have gotten started sooner."

UBC professor Paul Kershaw estimates it will take eight years for the B.C. government to roll out a $10-a-day child care program. (Harold Dupuis/CBC)

Kate Spence, a teacher and mother of two, pulled her daughter out of an unlicensed daycare in East Vancouver after another child — Macallan Saini — died there last year.

"I think that the flaw in the system now is parents are having to go on their gut instincts," Spence told Early Edition host Stephen Quinn.

Spence and her husband, both professionals in their 30s, have hired a part-time nanny for their two girls, though they needed financial help from their parents to do it.

Spence said she's elated about the promised child-care changes. "Affordable means that you can go to work and pay your mortgage and provide for your children, know that they're safe and not be breaking the bank," she said.

Paul Kershaw, a professor with University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health, said Tuesday's throne speech signalled the government's commitment to assist young families who have been "beaten down" by child care and other costs.

The throne speech made no mention of $10-a-day child care, which the NDP touted during last May's provincial election campaign.

"It's true the $10-a-day word wasn't there, but the design features we're looking for...were there in spades," Kershaw said.

Concern for cost, inefficiency

Kris Sims, the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said her organization is worried an expensive government child-care regime will mean higher taxes or a government deficit.

Sims said better options are tax breaks for private companies to provide daycare on site, or direct benefits for parents so they can make their own child-care choices.

"The thing we're leery about is the idea of big government institutionalized daycare which is often expensive and inefficient," she said.

With files from CBC Radio One's On the Island and The Early Edition.