Finance Minister Carole James delivers her budget speech in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2019. (B.C. government)

B.C. VIEWS: NDP moving to massive expansion of nanny state

$10-a-day daycare, tax subsidy for parents at heart of poverty plan

The featured item in Finance Minister Carole James’ budget for the coming year was not $10-a-day daycare, touted in the 2017 election and later downplayed by Premier John Horgan.

No, the banner item in James’ second full budget was the “Child Opportunity Benefit,” a pumped-up version of the existing “Early Childhood Benefit” that provides provincial tax credits for kids up to age six. When the NDP version starts in 2020, it will continue until age 18.

It’s not chump change. Eligible parents with one child get up to $28,800 over those 18 years. With two kids, it can reach $40,000.

It doesn’t start until next year because it’s tied in with the Canada Child Benefit, the marquee policy of the Justin Trudeau government. That program was actually started by Stephen Harper, but Trudeau made it his own by clawing back higher-income payments and boosting the low and middle income band.

It’s run by the Canada Revenue Agency, which requires provinces to give a year’s notice of changes. Government strategy is to get poor people connected to the tax system, which for them has turned into a negative income tax or welfare program.

The B.C. version starts to scale back the provincial tax benefit at an income of $25,000. Cue the shock and horror of the poverty industry that thrives in our cities, feeding the standard line to media that no matter how much money is thrown at poverty, it’s not enough.

B.C.’s income assistance rates are bumped up another $50 a month as well, across disability, single employable and family categories. This adds to the $100 a month Horgan and James added as soon as they were in office, after an unconscionably long time with no welfare increase under the B.C. Liberals.

Another instant media analysis you may have heard is that by embracing this costly child benefit, the NDP are turning their backs on $10-a-day licensed daycare. Not so, as James made clear to reporters. They’re doing both, and more.

She reminded us that $1 billion was put in last year’s budget for daycare. B.C. budgets are rolling three-year plans, so that’s $366 million in the fiscal year starting in March, and $473 million in 2021 as programs expand. This year’s budget adds another $300 million, for a total commitment of $1.3 billion.

READ MORE: NDP’s first budget sets daycare spending record

READ MORE: B.C. starting universal daycare pilot program

These numbers include the current pilot program for “universal” daycare, running in 53 selected B.C.communities until spring 2020. B.C. has so many child care programs now it’s difficult to keep them sorted out, but James’ budget figures also include the addition of 3,800 new daycare spaces and replacing the former “Child Care Subsidy” direct to daycares with B.C.’s “Affordable Child Care Benefit” last fall.

That benefit is an increased subsidy to qualifying daycares to lower the fees they charge to parents to $350 a month per child. It’s almost fully subscribed now.

Still with me? The “universal daycare” pilot is not, strictly speaking, $10-a-day daycare, although some lucky parents are getting it for $200 a month. As the NDP was raising taxes to pay for this nanny-state juggernaut, Horgan waved off questions about his daily repeated $10-a-day campaign speech, saying that was just another slogan copied from the B.C. Federation of Labour.

In fact, the B.C. daycare pilot spaces are “free” to eligible families with pre-tax income less than $45,000. Qualifying families with income up to $111,000 are paying less than $10 a day.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up in Cranbrook

Federal, provincial, U.S. and Indigenous representatives recently met for eight round of discussions

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Come run for Terry this Sunday

Terry Fox Run in Invermere raises funds for cancer research

Council rejects water bottling plant in current spot

Cites possibility to having facility built at another location in the village

Climate change website launched by Selkirk College and Columbia Basin Trust

The site features climate information for communities in the Columbia Basin and boundary region

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Driver of RV in Hosmer collision reported in stable condition

Collision occurred in Hosmer on September 5 and involved a semi truck, an RV and a school bus

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

Most Read