Child Care Cuts: A Huge Blow to Women's Equality in British ColumbiaWednesday, July 28 2010
Child Care Cuts: A Huge Blow to Women's Equality in British Columbia
Cuts to BC's Contribution and Compensation Staff Incentive Program, as reported recently in the media, are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cuts affecting childcare in British Columbia.
The accumulation of these cuts will be a huge blow to women in BC, setting the women's equality clock back as far as forty years. Cuts will also devastate many daycares in BC, especially those run by small, non-profit organizations, which must seek funding from as many as five different BC Ministries in order to keep their doors open.
The Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services is not only cutting the Contribution and Compensation program, which provided a meagre increase of approximately 11% to childcare workers with appropriate higher education, but has also cut Funding Assistance for Out of School Care. The Ministry will be cutting the Child Care Resource and Referral, which provides mothers with a database of childcare spaces, the one Stop Access Program, which provides supported childcare subsidies in the north, and funding to Westcoast Resource and Inform, which provides information and resources to rural childcares.
Upcoming changes in the way childcare in BC is funded-moving to a "per child" system based on enrolment-will mean a further cut of up to 30% in funding to daycares.
The Ministry of Advanced Education has also made deep cuts in closing Early Childhood Education programs, making faculty reductions, suspending programs in some institutions and reducing course offerings in others. The Ministry of Children and Family Development has reduced supported childcare for developmentally delayed children by 28%.
And one of the largest blows to women, with their statistically lower incomes and their majority responsibility for childcare in BC, has been the lowering of the threshold of qualifying income for childcare subsidies by the Ministry of Human Resources.
"The 1984 Royal Commission on Equality of Employment noted that 'child care is the ramp that provides equal access to the work force for mothers' (see Abella, 1984, 1978). Child care is also a major source of employment for women. According to census data, in 1991 there were 181,830 women providing child care. For mothers, lack of affordable child care may mean having to be out of the work force for several years, or part-time participation only. This results in a reduction of lifetime earnings, lost opportunities for career advancement and smaller pension benefits than would have been the case otherwise. For providers of child care, the reduction in government financial support means job insecurity and deteriorating working conditions."
The social consequences of not providing adequate and supportive government funding to childcare are great. According to researcher Gillian Doherty, parents may be forced to use unregulated care; to have one parent, or the lone parent, remain out of the paid work force or work only part-time in order to be home to care for the children; to arrange to work different shifts, thereby enabling one parent to be at home at all times (this "solution" has its own consequences, for example, a significant reduction in the amount of time the family unit is together); or to leave their child unattended or in the care of an older sibling. 
Without access to affordable childcare, women will face increased job insecurity, an increased level of stress, diminished access to educational opportunities, increased polarization based on socio-economic status, and a reduction in women's choices regarding participation in the paid work force.
Child care is essential for women in their role as mothers to assist them to obtain economic equality and to support them in their role as parents. At the same time, women make up 97% of child care providers.
The BC Coalition calls on the provincial government to ensure the affordability and availability of child care in BC. Further, the BC Coalition of Women's Centres calls on Minister of State for Women's Equality, Lynn Stephens, to stand up and speak in the Legislature on behalf of women. Childcare is fundamental to women's equality, and Minister Stephens cannot maintain her customary silence on women's equality issues while the systemic dismantling of childcare is taking place in British Columbia.
Media Committee Contacts:
Benita Bunjun (604) 255-3998
Debra Critchley (250) 542-7531
Dodie Goldney (250) 376-3009
 Doherty, Gillian. 1998. Women's support, women's work: child care in an era of deficit reduction, devolution, downsizing and deregulation. Canada, Status of Women Canada. Ottawa.
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