One of the main issues in the recently completed Federal Election was the Liberal government plan to supply the county with $10 per day childcare. During that election, about half the country had still not struck a deal with the the Feds, but as of today, every Canadian province, save one, has achieved affordable childcare. So will Ontario find a way to get to a deal now that everyone else has?
To begin with today’s news, it was announced that the other provincial holdout, New Brunswick, have reached a deal with the Federal government to initiate $10-a-day childcare, which will include the creation of 3,400 new licensed early learning and childcare spaces by March 2026, and a 50 per cent reduction in average parent fees for children under the age of 6 by the end of next year.
“We know parents are working hard to support their families and need access to child care that meets their needs,” said Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in a statement. “Our vision and objectives for early learning and child care are quite simple: reduce child care fees, create more spaces, ensure equitable access for all children, and grow a strong and skilled early childhood educator workforce. Today’s historic agreement with New Brunswick is another important step on the path to ensuring all families have access to high-quality, affordable, flexible, and inclusive early learning and child care.”
“This agreement will give thousands of New Brunswick children a head start. They’ll learn to play, and learn to learn, guided by skilled and passionate educators,” added Dominic Cardy, New Brunswick’s Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “When we say the early years are the most important: this agreement shows a commitment to that fact. This agreement will change lives.”
This puts the spotlight almost completely on Ontario and the government of Premier Doug Ford. What will it take to get the country’s most populace province onboard with the $10 per day childcare plan? According to Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce, the negotiations with the Federal government are stuck on the current proposed $10 billion over five years being offered by the Feds, which Lecce says is not enough to get the cost of childcare in Ontario down to $10 per day.
By comparison, New Brunswick is getting less than $500 million over five years in the deal announced with the Federal government today.
“We’re working with the federal government. In fact we met with them multiple times, walked them through our numbers, our methodology and our asks, which is for a larger investment over a sustained period of time so we can finally make childcare affordable for parents in Ontario,” Lecce said in Question Period last week. “That is with the federal government and they have our full complete financials. We look forward to hearing from them so yes we can wrap up a deal that reduces costs for moms and dads right across this province.”
Ontario’s opposition parties do not agree with Lecce’s appraisal of the situation.
“Now that New Brunswick has reached an agreement with the Federal Government on affordable childcare, only Ontario families are left without a deal. Parents are shouldering the cost of Doug Ford’s political standoff,” said Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca in a statement. “Ontario Liberals have been calling for a $10/day childcare deal for seven months. In that time, every other province, led by governments of all party stripes, have reached deals. Even Jason Kenney reached a childcare deal before Doug Ford.”
“Doug Ford likes to talk a big game on affordability. But when it comes to making the real decisions, like on affordable child care or housing, his delays and half measures hurt families,” added Green Party leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner. “Many families are struggling and need all the help they can get. Child care is unaffordable in Ontario. In Toronto, for example, it costs the average family over $1,500 per month. I’m calling on Ford to get an affordable child care deal done, ASAP. Ontario already finished last. Let’s not get lapped.”
Photo Courtesy of the City of Guelph.