We can’t imagine the province offers much latitude toward people who are tardy with money owing government.
If a family of two was months late, for instance, in paying their monthly $116 medical services plan fee — repeatedly — you can be sure government would be quick to assess late penalty fees of some sort.
Would provincial money minders be more understanding if the family blamed their woes on a problematic new computer program, which was complicating their ability to manage their finances?
Yet this is the excuse government is offering licenced child-care providers as to why it is late in paying them for children in care who qualify for a government subsidy.
There are widespread reports here of child-care providers owed months of back payments amounting to thousands of dollars.
Judy Van Goor, the operator of Mama Bear’s Child Care in Westsyde for 17 years, is shutting her doors because she can no longer shoulder the debt. Payments that previously took two weeks are now months in coming, according to Van Goor and others.
“I’ve had it,” she said. “Just the frustration — everything. Why would I become licenced?”
And becoming a government-approved, licenced child-care facility is not easy. There is a minimal amount of floor space required, at least one toilet and wash basin for every 10 children, criminal record checks for staff, necessary staff education and first aid training, nutritional requirements for meals, records kept and so on.
The government’s excuse for being late with payments to the small business owners is absurd — that a new computer program has slowed things down.
According to the Ministry of Health’s website, there are approximately 6,000 licensed child care facilities in B.C. If each one was owed $6,000 in backpay, like the manager of Children’s Circle Childcare Fran Richardson says she is, we’re talking $36 million government is sitting on.
It’s totally unacceptable to have the Richardsons and Van Goors of the world carrying the province, even if payments are being made within the “government standard of 30 days,” if that period of time has not been established practice.
With good child care providers so hard to come by, it’s time for the province to get its act together and cough up the cash instead of more lame excuses.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.