MLA for Chilliwack-Hope Laurie Throness. Photography by John Lehmann

On Tuesday, BC Liberal Childcare critic Laurie Throness asked Minister of State for Childcare Katrina Chen if she would “change her plans” for universal affordable childcare to exclude middle income parents.

Throness attacked fee reductions for middle income families, claiming that lowering childcare costs, helping parents return to work, or boosting the economy are not good reasons to invest in childcare.

Throness quoted a study showing that middle-income kids didn’t benefit as much developmentally from childcare as kids from low-income families. Throness then asked, “how will the minister change her plans in response to studies like this?”

After Chen responded that more affordable childcare also reduces costs for families, helps parents return to work, and grows the economy, Throness said: “I would simply remind the minister that it’s not about parents going back to work or about growing the economy. It’s about what’s best for children. We have to keep our eye on that.” (Hansard, Mar 3, 2020)

These comments echo his statement from two years ago that childcare wasn’t needed because parents should just stay home: “we have one full-time, 24-hour-a-day space for every child in BC. By law, child care is now, and always has been, universal and 24-7.” (Black Press, March 1, 2018)

Under the BC NDP government’s Child Care BC plan, parents have saved nearly $400 million in childcare fees. Some families have saved up to $19,200 a year.

Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Childcare said: “I’ve heard from parents across the province, especially mothers, who can’t return to work or are being forced to move from their communities because of a lack of affordable childcare. Andrew Wilkinson and his hand-picked childcare critic are out of touch with BC parents. They have repeatedly fought against our investments to reduce childcare costs. Their plan to give tax breaks to the top 1% would mean cuts to our childcare fee reductions and other services parents count on. We can’t let Andrew Wilkinson put our progress for families at risk.”