Horgan promises 22,000 new child care spaces

Horgan confirms child care plan is the $10 per day NDP program, not free Green plan

Stephanie Docherty, who had advocated for $10 a day day care, speaks with NDP Leader John Horgan. | Nelson Bennett

NDP Leader John Horgan confirmed Wednesday June 7 that the daycare plan that the Green-NDP alliance will adopt is the NDP’s $10 per day plan, not the free Green plan.

At a press conference at the Trout Lake Community Centre playground, Horgan said his minority NDP government would build 22,000 new day care spaces over the next three years and 66,000 over the next five.

The challenge won’t be just the capital cost of building those new spaces, he added.

“We also need to educate the childhood educators,” he said.

Asked what the plan would cost, Horgan could not provide a figure. However, the NDP platform costed $10 per day daycare at $175 million in the first year, $280 million in the third and $400 million in the third – a total cost of $855 million.

Horgan was asked how much the new day care would cost parents, he said: "The plan is a 10-year plan. Our first term will be to focus on building the spaces. We plan by Year 5 to have 66,000 new spaces and the $10 a day plan...I believe is a plan that can work and we're going to implement it."

Horgan could also not provide a timeline for when he thought the new spaces might be up and running.

"The big challenge is finding spaces," Horgan said. "And wait lists are sometimes 12 to 14 months long, and you have to get on those wait lists before your child is born."

Prior to his press conference, Horgan chatted with parents at the playground, including Stephanie Docherty, who was at the park with her two children, aged four and 15 months.

She described a logistical nightmare in finding safe daycare for her two children. She said some day cares were too crowded, or too far away or could not accommodate both children.

She and her partner ended up hiring a nanny for $200 per day at one point. While she described her and her partner as “privileged,” in that they both had good paying jobs, she said after paying for child care, there was not much point in working.

And just this week, she lost her job, she said, because her employer couldn't accommodate her parenting obligations.

"They really just feel like they needed someone there full-time and we weren't able to accommodate that," She said. "We didn't have the care available."

When asked, Docherty confirmed she wasn’t at the park by coincidence. She said she had been part of a group of parents advocating for $10 per day daycare.

“I wasn’t asked to but I heard that he was going to be here,” she said. “I’ve been involved in the $10 a day campaign.

“Someone had made us aware that this opportunity might be here and that it would be valuable to have people who’ve been really involved in that to speak to it.”