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

Surrey councillor wants the policing transition process to ‘immediately stop’

Brenda Locke to make motion at Dec. 16 meeting to reconsider current plan

City of Surrey says pension benefits ‘guaranteed’ for police recruits

A National Police Federation representative says it may not be enough incentive

Surrey-area teens will have a ball at Christmas, thanks to collection effort

Realty company’s Bring on the Balls campaign now in its third year

Surrey groups receive funding for training support for people 55-plus

PICS getting $728K to help 120 people over two years

City ready for ride-hailing, says Delta mayor

The city has set up business licence fees for ride-hailing on par with what taxis in Delta pay

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in 2017 Stanley Park stabbing

Lubomir Kunik was found by a man out walking his dog on the beach late on Feb. 1, 2017

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

Encampment in the city’s Downtown Eastside is one of many that have sprung up in B.C.

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Aid a priority for idled Vancouver Island loggers, John Horgan says

Steelworkers, Western Forest Products returning to mediation

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Most Read