Green Party campaign bus is unveiled in Vancouver last week. (BC GREEN PARTY)

Green Party policy still in daycare

Sweeping child care promises are unrealistic

The B.C. Green Party has begun rolling out its election promises as the campaign formally begins this week.

Andrew Weaver’s Greens are doing their best to look like a contender this time, rolling a biodiesel-fuelled bus to visit candidates in most of B.C.’s 87 constituencies. But judging by the early policy releases, their platform is not yet that of a government in waiting.

Weaver has seen the NDP’s giant bet to provide $10-a-day universal daycare, and raised it. Green Party daycare will be “free” for kids up to age two with working parents. For parents who wish to stay home during those infant years, they will receive “up to” $500 a month from the province, on top of EI benefits.

That’s not all. The public school system will be expanded to provide early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds. This will also be “free,” although they ball-park the cost to the provincial treasury for this at around $4 billion a year.

Leader of a one-person caucus, Weaver has not yet entered the realm of realism. His education fantasy will get a cool reception from Metro Vancouver mayors, who are currently pleading for relief from school property taxes that are tied to assessed values, already twice as high as the rest of the province.

With the provincial economy having to shoulder steep increases in carbon taxes, and the oil and gas industry soon regulated out of business, a Green-governed B.C. would have to run its grand programs on taxes from those still here and working.

NDP leader John Horgan says his heavily subsidized $10-a-day daycare program will pay for itself through economic growth. Expect more discussion of that in the weeks ahead, but at least it’s something that could happen, as we have seen in Quebec.

The B.C. Liberal record includes spending $11.3 million in the past year for the third phase of its expansion of child care spaces. That phase amounts to 1,800 more spaces in 30 communities. The province currently covers about 15 per cent of licensed daycare operating costs through subsidies, and also assists qualified low-income parents.

Is that enough? Many would say no. With the cost of land and operations rising, long waiting lists and rates as high as $1,400 a month, child care is still out of reach for many in urban areas.

The province began extending kindergarten for five-year-olds from half days to full days in 2010, and has developed a network called StrongStart centres, providing programs for parents and children to get them ready for kindergarten.

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux has also been reviewing regulations.

“We’re looking at the restrictions we put on child care providers in terms of outdoor space, in terms of sun access,” Cadieux said last spring. “We want to make sure that child care is safe and we have quality, but we also want to make sure that we’re not creating a situation that is unreasonable.”

Easy to parody, no doubt: Come on my little pretties, down in the cellar!

But Cadieux speaks as a realist who has had cabinet turn down budget increases for this and other pressing social needs. They also confront the cost of real estate in places where daycare is most needed.

If you believe there is enough money to massively increase child care across B.C. with no cost recovery, and to pay parents to stay home until their kids are two, you might even believe there is biodiesel available in every B.C. community to keep Weaver’s campaign bus running.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

Just Posted

Chef struck by car on Gorge Road dies in hospital

Khushal Singh Rana leaves behind a wife, four-year-old son and unborn twins

Young conductor to premiere new composition at Celebrate Canada concert Monday in Victoria

“Spirit of the True North” the latest musical accomplishment for View Royal’s Jared Richardson

Saanich Peninsula businesses recognized during annual Crystal Awards

Chamber of Commerce hosts 11th annual business excellence awards

Former Peninsula News Review carrier crowned Miss Teen Canada Globe

Anna Serogyna, a Grade 11 student at Stelly’s Secondary, did not intend… Continue reading

Rebels season over after loss in Cullen Cup Final

Westshore had won ten straight games prior to championship game

Sooke fudge company on Dragon’s Den Nov. 2

Fudge in A Round appearance on Dragon’s Den celebrated with a viewing party at the local Legion Nov. 2

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Council to hold public hearing on EDPA report Oct. 28

Saanich residents will finally get a chance to comment on a long-awaited… Continue reading

Book recycling program helps Peninsula families

It has been 12 years since Daphne Macnaughton was principal of Saanichton… Continue reading

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

Pumpkins’ versatility goes beyond Halloween

Linda Geggie For the Saanich News Get this. My 13-year-old just came… Continue reading

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Most Read