Vancouver’s newly adopted capital plan allots $30 million towards childcare

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[After years of listening to complaints from local residents regarding Vancouver’s childcare crisis, the city responded by allotting $30 million of the newly proposed capital plan towards childcare. The city of Vancouver is covered by the Vancouver Charter, which is different from the Municipal Act that covers all other municipalities in BC, and which grants them greater latitude to make this kind of expenditure. *RON*]

 Sindhu Dharmarajah, Vancouver Observer, 3 October 2014
Source: Province of British Columbia
After years of listening to complaints from local residents regarding Vancouver’s childcare crisis, the city councilors responded by allotting $30 million of the newly proposed capital plan towards childcare.

The new $1.085 billion plan over the next four years acknowledges more people related issues, according to city council. A major portion of the money will be spent on utility ($325 million), transportation ($150 million), parks ($125 million) and affordable housing ($125 million) as well.

If approved by taxpayers in the Nov. 15 civic election, $400-million borrowed funds (debt) will finance a large portion of the entire capital plan. While ‘pay-as-you-go’ capital funding, reserves, and community amenity, government and partner contributions will make up the rest of the investments.

In terms of childcare, the plan aims $25 million toward creating 1,000 new spaces, in which half will be for children aged four and younger. The additional $5 million will be designated for the renewal of city-owned childcare facilities.

The Coalition of Child Care Advocates’ Sharon Gregson says it’s a well-known fact there’s a childcare crisis in Vancouver and having more quality spaces is good news for families concerned about accessibility.

“It’s not a secret that when the city of Vancouver has been doing their surveys about what issues are important, childcare comes out high upon that list of priorities for Vancouver families,” said Gregson.

Acquiring that money for capital is important; however, the provincial government needs to take a bigger initiative the ongoing childcare issues, added Gregson.

“For local government this is a big step, but we still need the provincial government to come to the table,” said Gregson. “We need the province to come to the table and make sure those spaces are affordable, and see what the province can do about the $10-a-day plan.”

The $10-a-day community plan is proposed by the coalition as a solution to the childcare issues in Vancouver for families with young children. Ideally, a full-time childcare program will cost families $10-a-day.

“Vancouver councillors are showing leadership on this issue. Vancouver city councillors have a long history of being supportive of this issue and recognizing its significance for its residents,” she added, “and so this is really a significant step forward for our local government.”

Councillor Andrea Reimer, who helped reinstate the Joint Childcare Council, says although the $30 million is just for capital due to legal constraints, the city is tripling the amount spent on childcare from the previous plan.

Since 2008, a big mandate that includes, the city government, school boards and Vancouver coastal health among others, have been working together to make improvements in the childcare sector and have seen many changes over the years, explained Reimer.

“(Previously) If you looked at the capital budget you would have to hunt to find the word childcare,” she said, but now the plan shows the municipal financial breadth in the sector is “by far the largest ever investment in the province of British Columbia, and indeed the largest in Canada. It says a lot of the perseverance,” she added.

Reimer acknowledged that even though this is the most money allotted for childcare in Vancouver’s history “by a significant order of magnitude,” there is room for improvement.

“We don’t have a national child care strategy,” Reimer noted. “There’s a long ways to go, because we haven’t been building spaces historically at the level it needs, but this current allocation will keep up with demands while recognizing there’s a huge hole created by people who have not used that approach in the past,” she said.

How we’ll deliver on the needs of the city is crucial, so for childcare, “we still have to figure out how to get more money in there,” added Reimer.

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