VANCOUVER — British Columbia's Green party wants to see free child care for children under three and free early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds.
Campaigning in Vancouver on Tuesday, Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau says their plan would also have financial support for stay-at-home parents of $350 a month.
She says taking care of a child needs to be recognized as a real job that counts as time in the workplace, not as a relaxing time out.
Furstenau says parents with young children in B.C. are facing tremendous pressure as costs skyrocket and household income stagnates.
She is also proposing that the government launch a consultation process with business and labour to explore a four-day work week, saying there are a number of tools the government can use to help employers shift to a shorter week.
The Green leader says the pandemic has reminded many people that they need to take time away from work to enjoy a better balance, to take care of their mental and physical health, and to look after their families.
"We are now well into the 21st century, yet despite significant changes in the nature of work and technology, we haven't moved beyond the standard five-day, 40-hour work week that was established in the context of factory work in the 1900s."
She says research from around the world shows that shorter work weeks can make people happier, reduce stress and boost productivity.
Furstenau says the cost of the early education program would go from $674 million in 2020-21 to $897 million in 2024-25. That would include expanding education spaces and prioritizing partnerships with public schools and First Nations.
The program would involve training more early childhood educators in certified programs and paying professional wages.
"We need to value the work they do and we need to ensure that they are operating as highly qualified professionals," Furstenau says.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2020.