INTERVIEW: BC Minister of Children and Family Services Answers Questions On New Child Care Cuts
The BC Liberals got out the axe last week, cutting in half the amount of dollars available to child care facilities through the minor capital grants program. The grants are designed to help child care facilities fund small scale repairs and capital improvements.
“This week’s cut comes to the small grants that child care centres use for basic safety and quality repairs. It is one more example of a provincial government that seems determined to dismantle and destabilize and already fragile daycare system in BC,” wrote the Coalitions of Child Care Advocates of BC in a press release last week. “These grants are needed for such things as replacing worn carpeting, old fridges and stoves and to ensure basic health and safety standards and quality environments are maintained for young children.”
Previously facilities could apply for up to $5,000 a year per facility. That number has now been lowered to $2,000 per facility per year.
Recently the Golden Bear child care facility in Rossland has applied for this grant for repairs needed to maintain operation and were only able to get the lower $2,000 amount.
“We applied for the full amount, but we only got $2,000,” explained Rebecca Sterling of Golden Bear Daycare. “We were able to find another way of getting the funds we needed, but a lot of other facilities won’t be in that situation. This will affect a lot of centres. ”
“We had a major flood and we had to find the source of the flood. Water was trapped in the walls so we had mould growing in. We had to first find the source of the flooding, then cut the drywall out, have the insulation redone, re-plastered and re-painted. Because of the contaminants that ended up backing up we needed a professional cleaning crew to come in as well. We were fortunate that the grants shortfall was made up by the city for us in this particular situation.”
Part of the worry in these most recent cuts to child care grants are that some facilities may need to raise rates to be able to cover repairs or may have to shut down entirely until new funding can be found if repairs are needed.
“Fortunately it won’t affect us or our rates at this time but I’m confident that it will affect a lot of people. If they have an issue and they haven’t got the funds to deal with it well, the people who licence us which is Interior Health for this area, they could shut a centre down because it’s not meeting health and safety, so it could potentially have very serious ramifications,” added Sterling
Mary Polack, BC’s Minister of Children and Family Services when contacted this week explained that because of difficult budgets it was necessary to make the decision to lower the grant amounts and allow the same number of applicants, rather than maintain the maximum grant limit and reduce the number of successful applicants.
Overall the budget for this particular grant program has been cut from $1 million to $500,000. Overall however the ministries budget of $300 million has been increased this year by $8 million, a 2.6% increase. If there is $8 million dollars in the ministries coffer altogether why are they cutting these grants and using a “bad budget” as their reasoning?
I contacted the minister and asked her how these numbers add up as well as what she would say to local daycare operators such as Golden Bear who have relied on these grants in the past.
Listen to the entire interview above: