Transit, Childcare Feature in Urban Forum

Delegates attending the Large Urban Communities Forum heard presentations on two key issues facing British Columbians: public transit and childcare.

The first panel saw the CEO of TransLink, Kevin Desmond, and the CEO of BC Transit, Manuel Achadinha, joined on stage by Dr. Anthony Perl, Professor of Urban Studies and Political Science at Simon Fraser University, to discuss the future of public transit in B.C.

Themes of changing rider demographics, increased ridership and environmental sustainability united the speakers, as did the topic of emerging technologies and their potential to revolutionize public transit and rider mobility. “Cities are the places where shifting travel away from carbon fuelled car travel is possible and will pay big dividends, ” said Dr. Perl.  Desmond and Achadinha outlined their organizations’ commitment to environmentally friendly fleets of electric buses and transit networks supported by LEED infrastructure. All three speakers stressed the importance of improving mobility and service delivery today, while also planning for the future needs of communities.

During the second panel, delegates heard from Dr. Bonnie Henry, Deputy Provincial Health Officer, Honourable Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, Sharon Gregson from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and Chris Bone, Manager of Social Planning at the City of Prince George.   

Dr. Henry’s presentation focused on a recent report titled, Is ‘Good,’ Good Enough: The Health and Well-Being of Children and Youth in BC.  Dr. Henry informed the crowd that “overall, BC’s children and youth are doing well, but there are some things that we must pay attention to, specifically how gender and geography result in substantial disparities in a child’s health.”

Ms. Gregson’s presentation focused on advocacy for $10 a day childcare in B.C.  She painted a picture of the struggles faced by B.C. families due to the high costs of professional care and the lack of available spaces in regulated care facilities throughout the province. Gregson said that B.C. is in fact a “laggard” when it comes to innovative solutions for childcare, falling behind many European countries and Quebec. The solutions proposed by involve the establishment of new legislation, the Early Care and Learning Act, transferring childcare into the Ministry of Education, raising the wages of all Early Childhood Educators to $25 per hour and establishing a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education as the new educational standard for the sector.  A $10/day childcare system would not only create benefits for children, parents and educators, but also for the macro-economy, as it has the potential to create $1.3 billion in revenues for the province.

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