Last Monday 17 mom bloggers (including myself) had the opportunity to meet with BC Premier Christy Clark to discuss the challenges and concerns that families face in this province. She wanted to hear what mothers like us had to say and what we believed the government could do to improve things for us and our families.
There were many interesting points brought up in the round table discussion but the predominant concern voiced was the high cost of child care and how difficult it is to find placement.
The Premier heard about a coalition of child care advocates in BC and took notes to take a look at their community plan. She also explained that one of the biggest issues with childcare is convincing voters to “care” about childcare issues. She noted that people only care about this issue when their children are in the pre-school age and that once they start school they no longer carry this as a primary concern.
I don’t personally struggle with the issue of child care since I stay at home with my child but I still believe it is an important issue to discuss since there is far reaching impact that will affect all of us. Those early years of a child’s life are critical for their development and future and proper childcare that is accessible and affordable is a must.
We also discussed the continued funding of school-based, publicly accessible learning programs like StrongStart BC (for kids in the range of infant to five years old) and the possibility to have them run year round instead.
We personally take advantage of the StrongStart program and we would love to see it running morning and afternoons even during the summer since it has become such an essential part of our childs weekly routine and provides excellent socialization and educational development opportunities.
Some moms also spoke about the needs of WAHMs and how beneficial government grants to allow women to kickstart their business would be.
Allowing mothers to receive funding to upgrade their credentials while being able to stay at home with their children was also discussed, this would help give them the option to go back to their job with credentials that are up to date.
We also discussed the problem of housing becoming totally unaffordable relative to the rest of Canada and Premier Clark suggested cuts to property purchase and transfer taxes but also emphasized that home prices are affected directly by the market so there is little the government can do to change this. I personally think that there is a need for government intervention in the form of limiting foreign ownership of homes, and dramatically increasing the tax rate for people who buy second or third homes purely as investment properties. I think it is worth looking at other places that faced similar problems like Australia but were able to make some significant changes through changes in legislature.
In general we had a great meeting filled with solid ideas that I hope will turn into real changes and initiatives. I am happy to see politicians reaching out to real families and taking the time to sit down with us to listen to our concerns.