Ontario parents to pocket 25% off childcare amid election campaign

Parents of children aged five and under in child care will start getting rebates as part of a $10.2 billion deal with the federal government

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BRAMPTON, Ont. — Ontario parents of children aged five and under in child care will begin receiving rebates in May as part of a $10.2 billion agreement the province signed with the federal government.

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The rebates, retroactive to April 1, will amount to a fee reduction of up to 25% and are expected to land in the middle of Ontario’s election campaign.

Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially announced the agreement today in Brampton, Ontario, making Ontario the latest province to sign on to the federal government’s plan to reduce child care costs. children at an average of $10 a day nationwide. by the end of 2026.

Parents are expected to see further cost reduction in December, when fees are reduced – on average – by 50%, with further cuts planned for September 2024 to bring Ontario to an average of $10 a day by September 2025.

The agreement also allows Ontario to create 86,000 child care spaces, although that number includes more than 15,000 spaces already created since 2019.

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Ontario had wanted more certainty beyond the duration of the initial five-year agreement – ​​although the federal government’s budget last year called for funding for the program after year five to be $9 billion. dollars a year – and secured a commitment of $2.9 billion for the sixth year.

Under the agreement, Ontario will reduce fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of December, create 86,000 new child care spaces by the end of the five-year period and set new minimum wage for child care workers of $18 per hour for staff and $20 per hour for supervisors.

These wages will increase by $1 per hour each year until the floor reaches $25 per hour.

Places must be in licensed care facilities and priority must be given to public or not-for-profit spaces, but the agreement does not entirely leave out private, for-profit centers.

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At least one-fifth of child care spaces in Ontario are operated by private, for-profit corporations, and some of the highest fees are charged in the province.

The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives also reported that in 2019, Toronto had the highest median child care costs for infants and toddlers, at $1,774 and $1,457 per month respectively.

Preschool fees were highest in Iqaluit at $1,213, followed by Oakville, Ontario at $1,210 and Toronto at $1,207.

In Quebec, which created a universal child care program in 1997, parents paid an average of $179 per month across all age groups.

The federal government estimated last year that reducing fees to an average of $10 a day in Ontario would save an average of $7,300 per child.

Ontario is the latest province or territory to join the national plan. Seven provinces and the Yukon followed suit in July and August, before the federal election was called. Alberta joined in November, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories in December and Nunavut at the end of January.

When the Nunavut deal was finalized, Ford said a deal with his government was “very, very close,” but it took two more months to do.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 27, 2022.

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