B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson in a letter to Premier John Horgan on Monday asked the government for further supports for child care providers needing help in the wake of COVID-19.
“There’s been a lack of clarity for kids, their parents, and child care providers around how they can and should be operating right now,” said Wilkinson. “Child care plays an important role in the lives of B.C. families in every corner of the province. As British Columbia continues to reopen, parents need to know what the government’s plan is to help them meet their child care needs.”
Many child care providers fear they’ll have to permanently close due to the lack of support in recent months. To ensure the health of children, providers, and Early Childhood Educators (ECEs), Wilkinson and the BC Liberals are proposing that government:
- Clarify the risk that parents and children, providers, and ECEs, are undertaking when they return to regular service;
- Clearly define what is meant by a daily ‘screening’ of children, and assure providers that they can require a COVID-19 test of any child or worker as a condition of entry;
- Establish a ‘Provider Guarantee’ which will ensure that no provider is forced into insolvency as a result of COVID-19;
- Make personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies part of the ongoing basic Child Care Operating Fund program, including simple diagnostic tools such as thermometers; and
- Publish a comprehensive report on the state of the system, including the numbers of spaces and providers lost, program saving or extra costs, the numbers of centres and spaces open and closed, and the number of children attending versus enrolled during the crisis.
“In 2018, this government promised to create 24,000 new, incremental child care spaces within three years. However, only 2,400 functioning spaces had been created under the New Spaces Fund before the crisis,” said MLA Laurie Throness, the BC Liberal Critic for Child Care. “British Columbians deserve a clear statement of the government’s future agenda for child care, and that safety is the top priority when returning their kids to child care providers.”