Platypus YMCA daycare will close their doors to families and educators at the end of June. My own son, Aiden, will be without care. The educators at this centre have made this space a second home for all the children.
This is another devastating loss in our community, and the ripple effects are felt throughout. My older son had been in 7 daycares before beginning Kindergarten in Squamish in September 2020. My story is not unique. We are all aware of the issue, and the complexities involved.
We all- from our Mayor, to the Premier, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and the Prime Minister- acknowledge that childcare is an essential service and that investment in childcare is necessary to support economic recovery from the pandemic – especially for women.
The BC government has started this work and their election commitments are to: expand $10 a day to more families, continue to raise educator wages, and fund the creation of more spaces. But clearly the crisis in Squamish shows how much more needs to be done now.
The current market-based approach to childcare is ineffective and has proven to be unsustainable. The District of Squamish and the Sea to Sky School District have each passed motions to support the $10aDay Plan.
Now, our elected representatives must use their voices to put pressure on the provincial government to create solutions in Squamish now!
Childcare needs to operate in public space / on public land identified by the school district, municipality, health authority, or post-secondary institution. Increased integration between the school districts, Squamish Nation, and continued efforts for affordable housing to attract and retain early childhood educators are clearly essential to this multifaceted issue.
Public partners and stakeholders must build on the childcare action plan already in place for our community. Until the municipality, school board, MLA and MP work to create change for our community the risk is that private operators are still at the mercy of lease agreements and potentially increased cost to families while reducing the wage of educators.
I believe our collective voices can be heard, and the province will take note of the work that our municipality has done to formulate a Child Care Action Plan, and step in to drive this much needed change forward.
I felt hopeful hearing Mayor Karen Elliott speak at the recent district council meeting, and her intention to invite the Minister of State for Childcare, Katrina Chen, to the next roundtable meeting.
Squamish’s needs are unique, and this situation is complex and needs leadership from the provincial government, and the collective voices of our diverse Squamish community, to ensure that the solutions within reach come to fruition.
Tamlyn Smith is a Squamish mom.