Kwantlen Polytechnic University is in the preliminary stages of looking into building a daycare on campus.
Lesli Sangha, Kwantlen Student Association, mature students representative, says KPU has been in discussions to build a daycare on campus for years. The topic was brought up in a President’s Diversity and Equity Committee meeting a few months ago, where KPU president Alan Davis opened discussions to the idea once again.
In an emailed statement, Sandy Vanderburgh, provost and vice president academic, said, “The university is examining the development of an early learning program to provide highly skilled graduates to work in the sector [and] discussions around these initiatives are ongoing.”
Having a daycare on campus can help students who are parents “complete their educational goals,” says Sangha, a project which she fully supports.
“Having a daycare on site may open up a whole new demographic of students that maybe perhaps didn’t consider going back to school because of the shortage [of] child care space,” says Sangha.
In a 2018 report that looked at Canadian cities, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that areas throughout Metro Vancouver have low coverage when it comes to child care, with more than half of children living in regions designated as “child care deserts.”
The report says the southern sections of North Vancouver and West Vancouver are where parents are more likely to find child care centres for their children, while many regions of Surrey and Burnaby have few options.
The coverage rate of Metro Vancouver was at 35 per cent, and at the time, with the region having 116,000 children, 62,000 of them lived in child care deserts.
With KPU having campuses in Surrey, designated as an area with high child care needs, a daycare would help families in the city.
Sangha says the City of Surrey has had child care service shortages and that some parents are on waitlists for around six months to a year. If this childcare plan becomes a reality, the KSA is looking into ways to deliver meal subsidies, she says.
She’s also proposed the idea of the Grassroots Café having a children’s menu, and the café manager has received the idea well.
Sharon Gregson works with the Coalition for Child Care Advocates of B.C. and says one of the ways the government can assist cities with child care deserts is to implement the $10 a day program. Gregson says this program “gives the government … specific policy options that it needs to expand child care.”
On July 8, the federal government announced an investment of $3.2 million for the next five years to “improve regulated early learning and child care for children under six years of age in British Columbia.”
Gregson says this investment will help the provincial government work faster in creating more child care centres and make them affordable.
The federal and provincial governments have agreed on the goal of having $10-a-day child care. By the end of the five-year investment, both governments plan to have it in place “for all regulated child care spaces for children under 6,” with a 50 per cent decrease in child care fees for those children by 2022.
Gregson says the $10-a-day child care plan is the “driving force for child care advocacy” in B.C., and she encourages people to sign the petition that supports good and affordable child care.