British Columbia

B.C. NDP say universal child care won't come until after February budget announcement

Minister of Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson says parents will have to wait for the February budget announcement to find out how $10-a-day child care is coming to B.C.

'Whether it's $10 [a day], I'm not 100 per cent certain ... but that's absolutely what we're gunning for'

Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson says universal affordable child care is a very expensive initiative that will take time to roll out. His comments come after a coalition of child and youth advocates released a report showing one in five children in British Columbia live in poverty. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

B.C. Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson says universal affordable childcare is coming to British Columbia, but parents will have to wait for February's provincial budget announcement to see what it will look like.

"It's hard work to put this together," said Simpson during CBC's On the Coast.

"We're taking the time to do it right. It will be a major investment of resources ... The crisis needs to be addressed and we're working on how to do that, and it's not easy."

Simpson's comments come after First Call, a coalition of child and youth advocates, released a report Tuesday showing one in five children in British Columbia live in poverty.

The report shows many of the children come from single-parent households, from families that continue to have the highest poverty rate at nearly 48 per cent.

Since taking power, the B.C. NDP has created an advisory group to develop a poverty reduction plan. The province has also suggested raising the minimum wage in B.C., but has stayed largely silent on their campaign promise of $10-a-day child care.

"The plan was a ten year plan. The plan was put forward by childcare advocates. It was their plan for $10-a-day child care that we've largely adopted," said Simpson.

"I believe that by the time we get it all filled out, you're going to see that kind of child care. Whether it's $10[a day], I'm not 100 per cent certain about that, but that's absolutely what we're gunning for."

In the meantime

Simpson said the immediate issues facing the ministry are creating more child care spaces and ensuring that people with modest incomes — those covered by the report — have access to those spaces financially.

In the meantime, Simpson said British Columbian parents who need affordable child care will need to wait for the government to find a way to phase it in, because currently the resources aren't there to do it this year.

"The child care advocate's plan is about $2.5 billion dollars, by their estimate, for the cost of  $10-a-day child care. So we need to figure out how to stage that in because we don't have the resources to do that over night," said Simpson.

Simpson stressed the intersectional nature of the crisis and said many of the factors that have led to so many children living in poverty are being addressed.

He said the government is working hard on creating affordable housing, raising the minimum wage and advancing education and training for British Columbians.

"There's a range of excellent ideas out there and the challenge is going to be how we stage them," said Simpson.

With files from On the Coast