Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness speaking on Feb. 22, 2018. (Screenshot)

Chilliwack-Kent MLA says NDP are distracting from failed promise of more childcare spaces

Laurie Throness responding to NDP caucus calling him out for suggesting childcare can be ‘harmful’

The spat between the governing provincial NDP and the BC Liberals over childcare ramped up last week with the Minister of State for Childcare criticizing Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness for comments suggesting childcare could be “harmful” to kids.

Throness is the Opposition Critic for Children and Family Development. He and the BC Liberal Caucus called the criticism a distraction from the NDP’s “exaggerated claims and skewed numbers” on the childcare file.

In a caucus press release from March 6, the BC Liberals say the NDP itself has admitted new childcare spaces are opening at a “sluggish pace.”

It was in a public committee meeting on March 3 where Throness directed questions at Minister Katrina Chen, pointing to studies he says claim that while childcare benefits low-income families, there is no short-term benefit and questionable long-term benefit to universal childcare for children of middle-income families.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack-Kent MLA criticized by NDP for saying childcare can be ‘harmful’

Chen responded by reiterating her government’s position that more affordable childcare reduces costs for families, helps parents return to work, and grows the economy.

“I would simply remind the minister that it’s not about parents going back to work or about growing our economy,” Throness responded. “It’s about what’s best for our children.”

The next day the NDP caucus issued a press release calling out Throness and asking BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson if he agrees with the childcare critic’s comments.

“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,” according to the press release.

His latest comments build on what Throness has said in the past, namely, that if one parent were simply to stay home, government-funded childcare would be unnecessary.

“I can tell you how many child care spaces we have right now in B.C.,” Throness said speaking against universal child care on Feb. 22, 2018. “We have one full-time, 24-hour-a-day space for every child in B.C. By law, child care is now, and always has been, universal and 24-7.”

• READ MORE: NDP says Chilliwack-Kent MLA thinks child care isn’t needed, parents should stay home

The Progress asked Throness to comment on the NDP caucus press release, and he pointed to his comments on Twitter, adding: “My concern here is that the government wants to pay for the cost of child care in part by sending more parents to work, but this must not be done at the expense of child welfare. In the light of studies that show some ill effects of universal care in Quebec, the program must be carefully designed.”

All this came just days before Chen was in Burnaby to announce funding for 682 newly approved spaces, as part of the Childcare BC plan funding for more than 13,000 new spaces since July 2018.

Throness called the criticism of his comments a distraction from the NDP’s failure to keep its promise of 24,000 childcare spaces over three years, which the party announced in 2018.

“John Horgan and the NDP have misled the public into thinking that his plan is working, but they a falling drastically behind on their timeframe to get these spaces operational,” Throness said. “When I was finally able to question the minister in Budget estimates, she admitted the NDP are opening new childcare spaces at a rate of only 250 per month — it will take another seven years to actually have all announced spaces operational.”

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