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'Do we want to put our child in care or do we want to eat?': Northern Ontario voters consider childcare costs

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Child care workers say they already make 'peanuts' and worry if cheaper care means wage cuts for them
White, Erin
Publication Date: 
15 Sep 2021


Samantha Boucher isn't thinking about her monthly bill as she drops her two-year-old daughter off at the Forever Friends Childcare Centre in Timmins. 

"It's worth it. My daughter loves it here. She's only in a good mood here, she's not in a good mood at home," says the 31-year-old retail worker.

Boucher pays $40 per day, which works out to over $800 per month. She says it's not more than her rent, but closer than she'd like. 

"I recently had to go back to work because bills are expensive. Basically one of my paycheques pays for just the daycare," she says.

Nikki Savarie, a supervisor at Forever Friends, says she hears regularly from families who make too much money to get a subsidy, but too little to pay for child care and other bills.

"It's really sad when you see a family that literally has to decide 'Do we want to put our child in care or do we want to eat?'" she says.

Savarie welcomes the $10 a day national child care system being promised by the Liberals and NDP, although she wants to see some guarantees that the salaries for daycare workers won't be affected. 

The Conservatives are instead looking to go back to refundable tax credits to cover up to 75 per cent of a family's daycare costs. 

"Politics are tricky in general, because you're looking for the best crook, in my opinion," says Ashley Nault, who works at the daycare as well.

The 33-year-old gets a discount for her two kids that go to the childcare, but says the cost is still "astronomical."

She's worried that cheaper childcare for parents could mean a lighter paycheque for her and other early childhood educators who already make "peanuts" compared to education workers in the school system.

"So if we're only getting $10 a day for child care, who's covering the rest and where does that leave our wages?" says Nault.

That question is on the table for negotiations between the provincial and federal governments, which are on hold because of the election. 

Ontario is one of the few to not yet sign a child care agreement with Ottawa.

In other provinces, the deal included assurances that helping families wouldn't hurt daycare workers.