It’s a clean sweep nearly a year in the making! Last, but certainly not least, Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park have finally reached a deal to provide $10 per day childcare for working parents by 2025. The $13.2 billion agreement was announced at a jubilant joint media availability at a Brampton daycare centre, as the Prime Minister, the Premier and their ministers enjoyed this “Mission: Accomplished” moment.
“From day one, I said our government wouldn’t sign a deal that didn’t work for Ontario parents and I’m so proud of the work we’ve done with our federal partners to land an agreement that will lower costs for families across the province,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement released during the announcement. “Given how complex Ontario’s child care system is, we wanted to get this right. Today, we’re delivering a deal that will keep money in the pockets of hard-working parents.”
“With the signing of today’s agreement, we’re making $10–a–day child care a reality for families across country. Today’s announcement will save Ontario families thousands of dollars each year – with fee reductions starting as of Friday this week – while creating jobs, growing the middle class, and giving our kids the best start in life,” added Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a different statement.
Ontario is the last provincial or territorial government to reach a deal with the Federal government for its $10 per day childcare program that was announced in last year’s Federal budget. It’s been just over two months since the second-to-last government, Nunavut, signed their agreement with Ottawa.
The Ontario deal consists of $13.2 billion over six years, which is a year longer than other childcare agreements between the Federal government and provincial and territorial legislatures. The first $10.2 billion of funding will be spent in the first four years of the deal, with the intention of getting the cost of childcare to $10 per day by September 2025 for all kids aged 5 and under. There’s also enhanced protection against financial shortfalls in year three, which is another stipulation not in the other agreements.
The new financial structure will apply to all for-profit and non-profit childcares, and will also allow for the create of 86,00 new spaces too. The new funding will also be directed to the hiring of new early childhood educators (ECEs), and for improved compensation for current ECEs working in licensed childcares. The Government of Ontario will be working to be all 5,000 licensed child care centres and home child care agencies into the program between by September 1.
For the parents, the will be about to hold on to their child care tax credit from the Ontario government, and they will also be receiving a rebate retroactive to April 1 starting sometime in May. That’s when all Ontario families with children five years old and younger participating in licensed child care centres will see their fees reduced up to 25 per cent to a minimum of $12 per day.
“This is a historic moment for children and families in Ontario. The federal-provincial child care agreement will benefit our communities for generations to come,” said Medhat Mahdy, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Toronto in a statement. “The long-overdue agreement will make high-quality, licensed child care more affordable and accessible for families, by reducing parent fees and expanding child care spaces.”
There was still some room for criticism after the announcement. Guelph MPP and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner welcomed the news, but attacked the Premier for the unacceptable delay.
“Today is a victory for the parents and advocates who pushed the Ford government to finally sign an affordable child-care deal. But it begs the question: what took Doug Ford so long?” Schreiner said. “Affordable child care was needed months ago. But instead, Ford dragged it out and played the blame game, while other provinces and territories leaped ahead and made deals happen.
“Ontario parents paid the price for Ford’s delay. They’ve already missed out on at least three months of fee relief while other provinces reduced fees by at least 25 per cent retroactive to January 1,” Schreiner added.
“Ontario is unique when it comes to childcare, and I’m very happy that the Federal government saw that and was willing to sit down and take the time to get it right,” Ford explained answering the same question from the press.
“It’s easy for any side to go out and sign a deal for the sake of signing it, but as I said over and over again, let’s get a deal that’s flexible,” he added. “I appreciate the Federal government allowing us the flexibility and the sustainability. So we have the sustainability, we have the flexibility, and we’re good to go.”
The Ontario government also announced that they’re investing $395 million for wage and benefit increases for registered early childhood educators (RECEs) who work with children between the ages of 6 and 12 and are not covered under the Federal deal. The next fight might be funding for pay increases for ECEs, with some groups calling for a $25 per hour minimum wage. Ford didn’t discount the possibility.
“Nothing’s carved in stone,” Ford said. “This [deal] also gives an opportunity for many more people to get into the workforce, we’re short 338,000 people to fill the existing jobs, so we’re going to work collaboratively with the stakeholders. I’m always a strong believer that people have to be treated fairly, and our government is about making sure that people are treated fairly, so we’ll make sure we work hand-in-hand with them.”