How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff in Toronto.
For more than a year, the Ontario government has been rolling out the $10-a-day program for three years to more than 1,000 Toronto daycares using government money.
The program has been controversial because it is heavily subsidized by the government and, in turn, relies on daycares in low-income communities and immigrant communities, to supply labour.
The province says the program is meant to increase the capacity of existing, local daycares.
But, the program’s critics say that’s the opposite of what it actually does.
“It’s a tax on children. The program would have created, at the cost of $20 million, about 1,400 job-hostels,” according to David Viner, chair of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and an organizer with the Ontario Parent Action Network.
“It’s an invitation for daycares to use the money from this program for their own profit.”
And, Viner said, the money could have been better spent on increasing support services and wages for daycares workers.
It’s a situation the government has only exacerbated through its own decisions.
According to a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the for-profit program has added about $20 million to the province’s annual budget, for a total cost of $23 million, while creating about 1,400 jobs.
But the report says the program “has created an unbalanced system in which daycares are able to thrive by using public funding to pay for their labour while parents are denied help to cover rent and childcare while working outside the home.”
The report has called for the public funding model to be replaced with a universal child care program based on a $40-a-day flat rate for all families, or a “pay as you go” plan that gives parents $1,000 a year to cover daycare costs — and then increases these payments based on income from parental contributions.
But that would require changes to the Tory government’s legislation on daycare access and funding that is currently being discussed in Parliament.