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

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.

BC legislature

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned for Kelowna

Clinic at Kelowna Secondary School from June 22 to 24 from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read