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'A wake-up call': Advocates call on Ontario to add daycare spaces after FAO warns of shortage Social Sharing

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227,000 children could be without child-care spaces by 2026, financial watchdog warns
Sara Jabakhanji
Publication Date: 
18 Nov 2022


Bibian Aguirre signed up for a wait list for a child-care centre in Toronto while she was pregnant with her daughter, worried that she might not be able to get a spot.

The mother of two says she was told it would be "next to impossible" to find a place for her now 15-month-old daughter at a daycare centre in January 2023.

Aguirre finally did find those daycare spaces starting in January at a centre that has opted into the $10-a-day child-care program. But she says she's unsure when those reduced fees will be kicking in. Until then, she still has to pay $1,800 per month for her youngest child, in addition to $800 a month for her four-year-old daughter, who requires before and after care during the school year.

"Daycare expenses can make up to half of our income," Aguirre said. "My concern is that they do it fast, [so] everyone will be able to benefit from the program."

The national program that the province signed onto will see fees lowered to an average of $10 a day by 2025. Aguirre is just one of many Toronto parents hoping it will help them afford child-care in the city. However, in a new report released Monday on the Ford government's spending plan, the province's financial watchdog estimates that Ontario will not be able to meet the demand for child-care spaces.

Ontario extended the deadline for child-care centres to join the $10-a-day program was extended from Sept.1 to Nov. 1.  About 92 per cent of licensed child-care operators in the province have opted into the program, according to the education ministry.

Part of the agreement saw Ontario commit to 86,000 new child-care spaces by the end of 2026, and the government says 33,000 have already been created. But even if that target is met, Ontario's Financial Accountability Office said in its report that "significant excess demand" for the $10-a day program will exceed the number of available spaces.


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