Recent funding cuts to childcare programs are exacerbating the childcare crisis at the University of British Columbia and reinforcing a bias against the inclusion of women in academia, a spokesperson for the school’s student union says.

Blake Frederick, president of UBC’s Alma Mater Society, said there are 350 childcare spaces on campus and a wait-list of more than 1,500 people.

To make matters worse, he said, the province has “quietly” cut by 60 per cent the Minor Capital Grants program, which provides funding for the maintenance, renovation or construction of daycare facilities.

“The wait-list to get into childcare (at UBC) can be upwards of three years,” Frederick said.

“Now we’re learning that funds that already exist … (are) being cut back.

“It’s in the opposite direction of where we’d like to go.”

Frederick said the lack of childcare spaces on campus acts as a barrier for students and deterrent to potential staff — especially women.

“It is essential that child care be accessible, affordable and meet the diverse needs of families in order to have a prosperous economy,” Frederick said.

“The B.C. government should be investing in childcare, not making cuts.”

Maurine Karagianis, B.C. NDP childcare critic, said the cuts to the capital program are “catastrophic.”

“When there are inadequate (childcare) services or cuts to services it reduces the choices of women to further their education,” Karagianis said.

“In today’s economy, the better your education, the better your chances of financial security. So anything that undermines that is unacceptable.”

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