Child-care providers bracing for fallout from funding changes

The City of Ottawa could be short as much as $6.3 million in 2020 because of changes to provincial child-care funding, and the shortfall has service providers bracing for the fallout.

City facing $6.3M shortfall as province downloads administrative costs

Ottawa relies on provincial funding to make subsidized child-care spaces available at centres across the city, according to a staff report. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The City of Ottawa could be short as much as $6.3 million in 2020 because of changes to provincial child-care funding, and the shortfall has service providers bracing for the fallout.

After postponing planned cuts to child care and other services earlier this year, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced this week that his government will go ahead with some of the cuts in the new year.

Starting Jan. 1, municipalities will have to pay 20 per cent of the cost of creating new child-care spaces, which was previously fully funded by the province.

The province is also cutting back on funding for administrative costs for child care, a move that will force the city to find efficiencies elsewhere, according to the report.

According to the report, there's been limited direction from the province about how the city is expected to reduce administrative costs.

"Unless there are significant changes the City will not be in a position on January 1 to fully mitigate the lost provincial revenue with efficiencies and this will impact services," the report reads.

Too early to tell

It's too early to tell how those cuts will impact the subsidized spaces, according to Kim Hiscott, executive director of Andrew Fleck Children's Services, a local child-care provider.

"In the short term, we don't know enough of how this is going to affect our services, but we're going to be paying attention to the provincial direction and responding as we can," she said. "It's still very much a let's wait and see [situation]."

The city provides funding and subsidized daycare spots to service providers including Andrew Fleck.

The city had relied on the funding to subsidize hundreds of spots at child-care centres across Ottawa, the report said. It notes the province boosted child-care funding to the city by $2.6 million this year and last, money the city used to further reduce the wait list for subsidized spaces.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed the funding changes Monday at a gathering of municipal leaders in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

City looking to make up shortfall

Hiscott said one potential option for Andrew Fleck to raise fees down the road.

"We might have to increase by cost of living over the next couple of years if we don't see any additional funding, or if we see funding cuts," she said. 

City staff will bring forward proposals in the 2020 draft budget to make up the shortfall, the report notes.

Hiscott said she's confident the city will be able to make adjustments that will have the least impact on services and families, and that her organization is preparing to do the same.

"As a not-for-profit agency, there's never the luxury of unlimited resources," she said. "We're used to working with what we have."

The report will be presented to the city's community and protective services committee next week.


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