BC Family Day Chance To Highlight Daycare Costs

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B.C. Family Day is being used by unions to highlight daycare and pediatric care concerns in the province. (Flickr: BC Gov)
B.C. Family Day is being used by unions to highlight daycare and pediatric care concerns in the province. (Flickr: BC Gov)

VANCOUVER - While British Columbia's government promotes its first-ever Family Day as an opportunity to take a holiday at home, some unions are seizing the occasion to spread their own messages.

The government is encouraging families to create new memories and enjoy the best the province has to offer on Monday with what it has dubbed a "B.C. Staycation," playing on the idea of staying local for a vacation.

Premier Christy Clark said the holiday means British Columbians will get a break during the long stretch between New Year's and Easter.

"Whether you hit the slopes or take the kids on a hike, this weekend is about spending time together," she said Sunday in a release. "I hope everyone enjoys the extra day to spend time together with the people important to them."

Tourism Minister Pat Bell said the holiday will provide a significant boost to the province's tourism sector, noting there are many specials deals that will be on during the day, as well as free family-focused special events.

Child care workers, however, will be using the day to urge the government to implement a new, affordable daycare system.

Workers with the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union have collected 3,000 signed postcards from families that will be sent to Victoria asking for publicly-funded care that only costs $10 a day.

"On B.C.'s first Family Day holiday, the government should recognize that young families are financially squeezed," said BCGEU President Darryl Walker in a release.

"Paying for childcare — when it's even available — is like having to pay for housing twice."

Childcare costs an average of $9,000 per year for a two-year-old child in the province, while in Vancouver the cost rises to $14,000, according to the union.

There is a shortage of spaces as well, with licensed room for only one in five children in B.C.

Unionized provincial nurses, meanwhile, will be campaigning against changes to pediatric care throughout the Fraser Valley.

B.C. Nurses Union President Debra McPherson and other nurses will be staked out with the union's "campaign bus" at Abbotsford Regional Hospital to rally for greater access to quality care.

The union has been undertaking on-going discussions with local management, the Fraser Health Authority and local politicians about changes to the way pediatric care is delivered for some time now.

Joel Kaplan, executive director of the BC Council for Families, called the holiday a time to celebrate families in all their "diverse configurations.

"Building strong bonds with the people we consider our family can have lasting positive impact on our health and well-being," he said in the release distributed by the government.

The province chose to hold the holiday on the second Monday in February after 31,000 votes were cast in favour over the third Monday in the month.

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