Now is the right time for the City of New Westminster to access the recently announced provincial and federal funding for new childcare spaces. I am committed to making this happen.
Childcare is a big issue in our community, probably second only to the housing crisis. For years most childcare centres have had a two to three year waitlist for a space. This creates an enormous negative impact on families in our community. If parents are not able to find appropriate childcare, they are unable to go back to work. This makes it harder to afford housing and the other things a family needs, which affects the economic viability of our community. Lack of supply also pushes the price of childcare up to where it is unaccessible for many families.
I recall looking for childcare for my son when he was two. Of course, we were on the waitlist for many centres but I needed care quickly. I was distressed not to have any choice as to where my child would spend his days because I had to take the first option I could find.
While the City is not directly in the business of providing childcare, there are a number of things we can and should do to accelerate and facilitate increased childcare spaces in New Westminster.
- Prioritize applications for city projects that contenders for the newly announced provincial funding for childcare spaces;
- Make sure all new City-owned facilities incorporate childcare on site for operation by non-profit providers;
- Further develop policies that encourage private developments to provide space for non-profit childcare centers, like the recent examples in Queensborough and Downtown;
- Streamline the business license and approval process for daycare centre applications;
- Assist and support existing childcare centres with location challenges they may be facing;
- Review our current childcare granting program and request feedback from providers as to how it can be more supportive or effective; and
- Partner with the School District to advance after school childcare spaces at our local schools in Neighbourhood Learning Centres.
I will commit to pushing provincial and federal governments to do more to help increase the wages for childcare providers and provide education incentives that attract more people to the field. It can be very difficult for providers to attract childcare workers to such demanding job with very low remuneration. Municipalities can help be the voice for our local childcare providers and the parents that rely on their services.
I know as a working mom how important our childcare option is to us. My husband and I both need to work and we don’t have nearby family that can provide childcare. Like other parents, it’s crucial that we feel secure and trust in the organization that is looking after our child. I want everyone to be able to find the right childcare centre at the right time. The health and welfare of our families depend upon it.
I was really pleased to see Mary's platform on childcare. As the co-chair of the St. Barnabas Daycare Parents Board and as a parent of young kids, I am acutely aware of and often hear of the struggles families face when looking for appropriate childcare for their family. I'm thrilled that there is someone on City Council that has our New West families best interests as a priority and I support Mary in her re-election for City Council. - Sara Korytowski, New Westminster Resident