Budget 2015 clearly shows that B.C. can afford to start implementing the $10/day child-care plan now — and it can choose to do so without raising taxes, without cutting vital programs and services, and without going into deficit. A short and simple analysis, summarized below, provides one example of how investment in child care could be gradually introduced. With implementation phased in over 10 years and very conservative estimates of early returns to government, B.C. can still achieve surpluses throughout the budget period — surpluses which could also be used to enhance other services. However, instead of implementing the $10/day child-care plan, the B.C. government has chosen to leave our youngest children in unregulated, unmonitored care settings, and skilled, experienced women out of the paid labour force. Government has also chosen to ignore the advice of TD Bank Chief Economist Craig Alexander, who assessed the “unquestionable” benefits of early learning for children, parents and the economy and recommended that governments prioritize investing in child care “as their finances move back into balance.”
The CCPA is currently researching various implementation and financing options for the $10/day child-care plan and I look forward to having detailed analysis and proposals. Given the experience in this fiscal year, where B.C.’s original budgeted surplus of $184 million is now closer to $1 billion, we may have even more surplus funds to work with in the future. And, there is the potential for new federal contributions after the upcoming federal election, making child care even more affordable for B.C. and/or raising the possibility that we could ramp up our implementation schedule and provide more relief to families sooner.
Still, Budget 2015 on its own confirms that the B.C. government’s only stated excuse for not implementing the $10/day plan — “we can’t afford it” — is officially eliminated, along with budget deficits for the foreseeable future.
Note: Generation Squeeze estimates various benefits from $10 a day child care. For example, 38 per cent of total costs are returned to government in taxes paid by ECEs earning pay equity wages and more mothers in paid labour force. Early in implementation, benefits in table above are conservatively estimated at 33 per cent of 50 per cent of annual investment, as access and ECE wages increase (in addition to lower parent fees).
Photo: D Sharon Pruitt/flickr