Author: Henry

The Ontario Child Care Crisis

The Ontario Child Care Crisis

How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff over child and parental rights.

Over the past two years, a cottage industry has sprung up to provide subsidized child care to parents who work full time. In the spring of 2016, then-councillor John Filion, a Progressive Conservative, called for the provincial government to fund the program, and the child-care industry quickly lined up to support it.

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That support was, at first, an unqualified success. The child-care industry provided, on average, 2,000 children with Ontario daycares — a number that rose to 2,600 by the end of 2015. But at the same time, it became clear that the program had gone very wrong.

Daycares were, in fact, failing to meet provincial standards, a situation that was revealed in a report released this January by the Ontario Child Care Review Board as part of an investigation into the program. The report found that:

1. Just 22 per cent of Ontario daycares met minimum standards set by the province;

2. About 20 per cent of Ontario daycares were failing to provide a sufficient number of qualified day care workers;

3. Daycare operators were charging up to $16,000 in fees; and

4. The government was funding the program at a rate that was “not cost-effective” given that parents were paying fees that were five times higher than other non-parental child care options.

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The province, however, has remained silent on the report, and the daycaring industry and governments have gone on the offensive, attempting to persuade child welfare workers that the best approach to deal with the problem of child-care poverty is to “treat the child as a family unit,” rather than to “separate children from their family units.”

In March 2016, the Progressive Conservative government announced a new, temporary subsidy program for parents who work more than 30 hours a week. The $10-a-day daycare rate was one of five options on offer for the program, with the goal of creating a stable, long-term solution to the daycare crisis. Another

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