Ontario reaches $10.2B child-care deal: Here's what parents need to know
Deal is meant to deliver an average of $10-a-day child care by September 2025
Ontario has signed a five-year, $10.2 billion deal with the federal government that will cut child-care fees in the province in half by the end of the year.
Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially announced the deal at a YMCA child-care centre in Brampton, Ont., on Monday. The province says the agreement will bring child-care fees down to an average of $10 a day by the end of 2025.
As part of the deal, parents of children aged five and under will start getting rebates for licensed child-care fees in May and can expect to see costs cut in half by the end of the year. The federal government invested an additional $2.9 billion for a sixth year of the agreement.
The rebates, retroactive to April 1, will represent reductions of up to 25 per cent, and are set to begin amid the spring provincial election campaign.
Trudeau said the new program will offer a savings of an average of $6,000 per child, "real money for families" at a moment when a range of household costs are going up.
He also called the deal a "historic moment" now that all provinces and territories have signed child-care deals.
"Child care is becoming a reality for all Canadians," he said.
Here's what parents can expect in the coming months:
As of April 1, 2022, families with children five years old and younger in participating licensed child care centres, including licensed home care, will see fees reduced up to 25 per cent to a minimum of $12 per day.
Rebates, retroactive to April 1, will be issued automatically starting in May. The rebate is in place to account for child-care operators that may need extra time to readjust their fees.
In December 2022, fees will be reduced further to about 50 per cent on average.
The deal outlines a plan to further slash rates in the coming years. Here's what the longer-term outlook includes:
In September 2024 fees will be reduced even further.
A final reduction in September 2025 will bring fees down to an average of $10 per day.
'The right deal for Ontarians'
Ford, who will officially begin his election campaign in a few weeks, framed the deal as one of several ways his Progressive Conservative government is saving people money, referencing other measures such as rebates on licence plate renewal fees.
"It's a great deal for Ontario parents and the right deal for Ontarians," he said. "It's a deal that provides flexibility in how
we allocate federal funding, flexibility that is critical for making this deal work for Ontario."
The program was to include $1 billion for Ontario in year one, which is 2021-22. Since that fiscal year ends in four days, the federal government is allowing the province more flexibility to push most of that spending into future years.
Ontario had wanted more certainty beyond the life of the original five-year deal — the federal government's budget last year said funding for the program after the fifth year would be $9 billion annually — and got a commitment of $2.9 billion for year six, which officials describe as "out-year funding."
Ontario will now work to enrol 5,000 licensed child-care centres and licensed home daycares in the program.
As for the parent rebate, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said child-care operators have until September to apply for the program, which is why the rebate will apply retroactively to April 1.
Ontario Opposition leaders said the rebate should be retroactive to Jan. 1, as in some other provinces, to account for what they called a delay in Ontario signing the deal.
"I will also say that I am disappointed that Premier Ford, who, knowing how difficult a time young families are having making ends meet, knowing that federal child-care money was on offer that could change their lives, deliberately chose to make them wait, and wait, and wait for help," Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said in a statement.
86,000 new child-care spaces
Under the deal, Ontario is creating 86,000 child-care spaces, though that number includes more than 15,000 spaces already in place since 2019. The new spaces will be a mix of for-profit and not-for-profit, the government said.
Ford said the province would work on boosting wages for early childhood educators. The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario has called for a $25 minimum wage for registered ECEs.
Currently, the province gives a $2-an-hour wage enhancement for those making less than about $28 an hour.
"To be frank, they deserve more money. That's my opinion," Ford said.
"The job is very, very difficult. It's a job I wouldn't be able to do. You know, they they have a special skill set and they deserve to get paid appropriately and we'll work as quickly as possible and collaborate with stakeholders."
Ontario said in background materials that it will improve compensation for registered ECEs, but didn't specify dollar amounts.
A federal source said the deal sets new minimum-wage floors for child-care workers of $18 an hour for staff and $20 an hour for supervisors.
Those wages will rise $1 an hour each year until the floor hits $25 an hour.
With files from The Canadian Press
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