NANAIMO — Another round of cost relief is coming as the province pushes its ambitious universal childcare goal forward.
Katrina Chen, minister of state for child care, was in Nanaimo Monday to offer an update on the high-profile plan, which included the goal of creating 22,000 new licensed childcare spaces over the next three years. Chen said applications will be accepted in September to reduce monthly costs by up to $1,250 for lower income families. Households earning up to $111,000 annually can apply for the sliding scale benefit, which the province projected will support 86,000 families by 2021.
Chen said childcare costs have become a significant burden on many B.C. families.
“Early learning is so crucial for the children, for families and for our economy,” Chen told NanaimoNewsNOW. “Employers are struggling with recruitment and retention because a lot of parents aren't able to return to work.”
The province anticipated 22,000 new childcare spaces would cost $221 million, of which priority will be given to infant and toddler care. Fast-developing urban centres, Indigenous, rural and remote communities head the new spaces list.
Chen believed Nanaimo would fall in the category of a priority region for more childcare spaces.
The province unveilled childcare reductions of up to $350 a month in April.
The childcare expansion effort would also support new spaces on school grounds for before- and after-school care for elementary-aged youngsters, according to the province.
Chen said while the province is focused on new licensed childcare spaces, all types of care options will get a piece of provincial funding, including unlicensed providers, to give families more choices.
She said higher salaries for childcare providers is another part of the plan.
“Recruitment, retention strategies, support for education, training and fair compensation, those are all of the things we're looking at.”
Chen has community engagement meetings scheduled in Qualicum Beach and the Comox Valley Tuesday.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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