A group of concerned parents got together for a “stroller brigade” to bring attention to child care before the All Candidates Forum.

Concerned parents make sure child care is on political radar

A group of parents rolled strollers to make a point before the All Candidates Forum in Golden.

The issue of the availability and cost of child care in British Columbia has been gaining some political attention lately, especially in Golden, and the four local candidates in the provincial election had the chance to speak about it at the All Candidates Forum.

Three different people stood up at the forum, asking what the government is going to do to help families.

“This is a Canada-wide issue,” said Earl Olsen, BC Conservative candidate. Although he says the government is in a tough fiscal position, Olsen believes the government needs to find a way to better fund early child care.

“We have to look at what people need, and how we can help… But it will be a trade off,” he said, explaining that to fund better child care, the government may have to take funds away from something else, because going further into a deficit is not an option.

Green Party candidate Laurel Ralston agreed that there may need to be a trade off to find the funds, but it might be worth it.

“The Green Party is a very community oriented party… One of the things that is very high on our list is to implement a child care program, among other things. We believe that it will reduce poverty, and improve educational success later on in life,” she said, adding that reducing taxes is not always the be all and end all of politics.

“As long as our taxes are being spent in a way that really addresses the problems that we have, I’m comfortable paying them.”

NDP Norm Macdonald and Liberal Doug Clovechok, both former educators, shared their peers’ take on the importance of early care.

“Childcare is important to the Liberals. We cost out $42 million annually into childcare in this province,” said Clovechok, explaining that another $32 million is being added to that for more child care spaces.

“But it’s also about keeping taxes low so that you can afford what you need for your kids.”

If the Liberals focus on growing the economy, then more revenue will be coming in, and more can be spent on things like child care, said Clovechok.

The NDP are also committed to families and child care said Norm Macdonald, but that doesn’t mean the problem can be fixed over night.

“There are fiscal constraints here that are very real… New spending will have to come from new taxes,” said Macdonald. The NDP are proposing four minor taxes, part of which will go towards child care, including a 20 per cent cut in fees and money for more infrastructure.

“None of that will completely meet the needs that are out there, but it is a good first step. But everything we’re talking about here has to be framed within the fiscal realities we are faced with.”

Parents today are facing challenges that previous generations have not, including an imbalance in government spending between generations (right now the government spends around $45,000 per year on each retiree, and only $12,000 per person under the age of 45), and an increase cost of living, which requires two incomes in most households. This makes affordable child care vitally important.

This trend is being dubbed the Generation Squeeze, and is gaining political momentum all the time.

To learn more about the issue go to www.gensqueeze.ca.

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