The Ontario Liberal Party has announced an election promise aimed at capitalizing on the Doug Ford government's failure to reach a deal with the federal government on $10 per day child care.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca announced Thursday afternoon that parents will receive a rebate averaging $2,750 per child, as compensation for child-care costs, should his party form government after the June 2 provincial election.
A news release from the party says the lack of a child care deal is costing Ontario parents an average of $25 a day and includes a promise of "retroactively refunding parents the extra costs resulting from Doug Ford's delay."
Ontario is the only province that has yet to reach an agreement with the federal government on funding to make good on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promise to provide child care at a cost of $10 per day.
Ford and Education Minister Steven Lecce have repeatedly said in recent weeks that Ontario is close to a deal, but needs an arrangement that is fiscally sustainable.
In a letter to CBC News Thursday evening, Lecce said the Wynne-Del Duca Liberal government had 15 years to make child care affordable. Instead, he said costs spiked by over 400 per cent, "rising to one of the most expensive child care systems in Canada."
Lecce said the Ford government "will continue to stand up for Ontario families in our negotiation with the federal government by making sure we get a fair and sustainable deal that delivers $10 per day child care for parents while also increasing access to spaces in more communities."
It's an insult, Del Duca says
The $2,750 average rebate proposed by the Ontario Liberals would represent the accumulated extra costs of child care borne by parents without the federal subsidy since Jan. 1.
"It's an insult Doug Ford and his Conservative government are stubbornly refusing to sign a child care deal with the federal government when Ontario families need help now, not higher and higher child care costs," says Del Duca in the news release.
The news release does not make clear how the Liberals would find the funding for it, nor how much the promise would cost taxpayers. There are 547,000 kids in paid child care in the province, according to Ontario's Financial Accountability Officer. With the average refund promised, that would total some $1.5 billion.
The promised rebate adds to previous commitments by Del Duca to cut the cost of before and after-school care to $10 per day within 100 days of forming government, and to achieve $10 per day licensed child care for all ages of children by 2024.