Toddler tragedy emboldens Vancouver parents to rally for $10-a-day child care

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Toddler tragedy emboldens Vancouver parents to rally for $10-a-day child care

Parents and children carried signs with the image of toddler Macallan Saini as they rallied outside of Attorney General Suzanne Anton's Vancouver office to urge the government to adopt a $10-a-day child care plan,

Shelley Sheppard and Chris Saini, whose 15-month-old son Macallan died in an accident at a daycare are now calling for reforms to B.C.'s daycare system following the tragedy.

"You know it could be your baby in that spot right?" said Jenny Comeao who marched. "Nobody should be in that position."

Comeao considers herself lucky that her work offers child care for her daughter, but she had to apply when she was four weeks pregnant, and a spot did not not open up until her daughter was 13-months-old.

"I'm still on other wait lists and I haven't heard back from in the rest of the city. It is pretty crazy in terms of what the options are."

Marina Guy's daughter is now 15 months old but is only 150th on a list for a day care spot.

"It's super frustrating to a point where I think I should just stay home and that becomes a gender issue because I make less money than my husband, so it's me that is going to stay home."

The provincial government currently invests an estimated $224 million to the child care sector, accounting roughly 111,000 licensed child care spaces.

But there's only enough space for a quarter of children aged five and under in the province, according to the Child Care Resource and Research Unit.

Anton met with parents at the rally in front of her office, but she flat-out rejected an adoption of the plan by her government.

"The price tag on $10-a-day child care is very high but what we are very committed to is to make sure there are enough child care spaces," she said. "We do have supports for people on lower income to use those places."

New federal money

In its recent budget the federal government committed $7 billion over the next 10 years to create new and affordable child care spaces.

"We welcome the federal government's commitment to create more child care spaces, which is what we are also focused on doing," said officials from the Ministry of Children and Family Development in a release.

It also said that the province will create 13,000 new licensed child care spaces throughout the province by 2020 and since 2014 has invested $26.5 million to create more than 4,300 new licensed child care spaces.

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan says if his party is elected, a $10-a-day policy would be introduced.

with files fromTina Lovgreen