Families are under tremendous pressure in BC today. The generation raising young children today juggles long working hours and multiple demands on their time, as their household incomes stagnate and housing costs skyrocket.
The BC Greens’ plan to support young families is designed to promote the opportunity for parents to achieve a balance that works for them. Parents who choose to return to work will be supported by enhanced access to quality childcare and more flexible work arrangements. Those who choose to stay home with their children will have an income supplement, and we will encourage flexible working options to support people to find a balance.
We need to accelerate the work of building a universal childcare system. It’s been well-established that the COVID-19 pandemic has had disproportionate effects on women, and that we risk losing all the gains made in women’s labour force participation over the past number of decades without targeted programs that support women. But it is not enough just to deliver childcare. It matters how we build this system. In our haste to create spaces, we shouldn’t be reinforcing a flawed system that’s overly reliant on for-profit providers.
We also need to improve flexibility for parents by promoting the opportunity for parents to achieve the right balance between work and family time for their needs. It’s time to move beyond a 20th-century approach for working lives and develop supports that recognise the needs of families today.
Our economy has been structured to encourage more work, more spending, and more economic growth—but the benefits of this economic growth aren't felt by most. Instead, the wealth is concentrated at the top, while more people feel like they’re working harder and harder but still falling behind. Ultimately, we need to make sure our economy benefits everyone. Our plan to support families will give people real options.
Support for stay-at-home parents
The BC Greens will create a comprehensive program for childcare and increase funding for child care programs from $674 million in 2020/21 to $897 million in 2023/24. This is in addition to the $300 million funding for preschool for 3 and 4 year olds that is included in the Education budget.
- The expansion of available physical spaces, prioritizing partnerships with public schools, community non-profits, and First Nations;
- Free childcare for working parents with children under 3;
- Professional development opportunities to increase qualifications of existing child care workers, and the training of more early childhood educators in certified programs;
- Establishment of professional wages for early childhood educators.
Supporting flexible work arrangements
We would take the first steps towards policies that ensure that families have a viable choice between going back to full-time work, staying at home or balancing both, including:
- In consultation with business, labour and other stakeholders.
- For example, encouraging employers to adopt a 4-day work week, or reduced hours for a standard work week while maintaining full-time status to maintain benefits, or modified work week arrangements.
- Helping employers to continue to support telecommuting where feasible.
- Enhancing investments to deliver high-speed internet access across BC.