Ontario weakened its $10-a-day child care funding rules. Now the federal government is demanding answers
“Our job is not to provide free child care for everyone who wants it,” Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. “That is not our mission, our mission is to provide a high quality system for all our kids.”
That’s true, and Sandals’ message makes sense. The fact is that every child in Ontario’s child care system is paying for its own child care. There is no government obligation to cover for any child, regardless of its age or number of days in child care. This is particularly true for children who are in the care of a non-family member.
It’s also true that Ontario is not alone in this approach. The federal government has pushed hard over the past decade to shift child-care funding to a per-child basis. But the federal government is now insisting that Ontario stop cutting back on the program, which means that either Ontario can’t offer any subsidy for child care, or the federal government has to find a new $10-a-day subsidy.
That has to be a shocker. We have no way to know where or how these negotiations are going to turn out. But we can be certain that whatever happens, it won’t be pretty.
This week we published a series of stories highlighting the growing number of families who are having trouble paying for child care in Ontario. We also have some new research to share, which suggests that as more parents work more hours, their child care costs go up even faster than they do in other countries.
So, the government of Ontario is in a bind. The number of children in child care is falling fast, but the price of care is rising exponentially. The government has a mandate to find sustainable child-care programs for all children — and yet, for the most part, they’re failing children as well as taxpayers.
That is, of course, a big problem