Child care advocates celebrate the signing of the Canada-Ontario child care funding agreement, but also warn that the Ontario government’s implementation plan is not yet adequate to achieve the promised 86,000 new licensed spaces.
“It will be impossible for Ontario to deliver on the much-needed expansion of licensed child care without very big improvements in the compensation paid to qualified early childhood educators,” says Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director of Child Care Now, Canada’s national child care advocacy association.
The Ontario government announced it will set the “wage floor” for early childhood educators at $18 an hour and raise it very slowly to $25 per hour over the next five years. Ballantyne says this will do nothing to incentivize people to become qualified early childhood educators, or to convince those in the sector to stay.
“To make affordable regulated child care available to those who want it, Ontario needs many more than 86,000 new spaces, but I fear even inadequate growth will not be achieved in the absence of a solid expansion plan that includes a workforce strategy, and a plan to ensure that new facilities will be constructed, and existing ones made larger,” says Ballantyne.
Child care advocates applauded the reductions in parent fees that will flow from the agreement and the federal government’s $10.2 billion transfer to Ontario. Average parent fees for regulated child care will be cut in half by the end of 2022. A first reduction of 25 per cent will take effect April 1, 2022. Also, the Ontario government is imposing a freeze on fee increases.
We heartily congratulate the Government of Canada for achieving child care funding agreements with every provincial and territorial government in Canada and for its continued commitment to building a high quality, affordable, inclusive, and accessible system of early learning and child care.
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould said today, the signing of the agreements is only the first step. Child care advocates will monitor developments closely and continue to press all levels of government to take the action necessary to put in place a universal system of high quality child care across Canada.