How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff that could impact every single province.
The Globe and Mail has learned the provincial government is considering measures to require all publicly-funded daycares to accept the new program.
But the province-owned childcare system, which is meant to help thousands of working parents keep their kids at home, has already fallen far behind schedule for the rollout. The government says the gap is now more than twice as large as originally projected.
And the fallout from the government’s own flawed child care evaluation is now threatening even more provincial progress on child care for millions of children across the country.
Story continues below advertisement
After it was announced that the government was planning to expand the province’s existing $16-a-day child care to about 30 per cent of Ontario’s population, a barrage of criticism quickly sprang up from opponents.
In addition to saying the federal Liberals should cut off child care funding, many said the province’s plans were too ambitious and that they would have to make concessions.
The Liberal government had pledged in the last election to cover child care costs for a quarter of Ontario families, and the daycares were expected to make up the rest. The government has now decided to expand that to 30 per cent of families, a target that the Progressive Conservatives had campaigned on.
The daycares are required to meet many of the same federal standards as public child care, including the availability of a full-time daycare worker to meet children on a part-time basis.
But the government has announced it’s not putting any of those rules into practice, meaning there are fewer child-care providers than expected and no guarantees the workers will have proper training or certification, or that their facilities are safe.
Instead of the government requiring daycares with fewer than 40 children to pay for a full-time worker, it will instead allow the daycares to pay only for part-time children for the three years before the government decides on next steps.
The Conservative government has promised to pay for the required full-time workers and to ensure all daycares accept $10 a day for children, but critics are calling on the Liberals to scrap the expansion of subsidized daycare and require the government to pay for a full-time worker.