Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ontario Creating More Affordable Child Care Spaces Across the Province

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The Ontario government is making child care more affordable and accessible for families across the province, creating an additional 53,000 new, affordable licensed child care spaces by December 2026 – bringing our total to 86,000 new spaces since 2019.

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In March 2022, Ontario secured a six-year, $13.2 billion agreement with the federal government which will lower fees for families and deliver an average of $10 a day child care by September 2025. This included an initial investment of $10.2 billion for the first five years of the agreement and an additional commitment for at least $3 billion in year six. Today, as part of that agreement, Ontario is announcing a targeted plan to create new licensed child care spaces, with a focus on increasing access to families across Ontario.

“We are delivering savings directly to families while increasing access to child care spaces in communities small and large,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our government is making child care affordable — with savings averaging between $6,000 to $10,000 per child by the end of this year — and investing in new spaces that will benefit parents for years to come. With the cost of living rising across the country, the Ontario government is increasing access to child care spaces and delivering needed financial relief for families.”

The new spaces will be allocated to communities across Ontario using a model that incorporates demographics, socio-economic indicators, and existing licensed child care capacity. The new spaces will be part of the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system and includes a mix of not-for-profit and for-profit centres, a key priority of the Government of Ontario to respect and ultimately provide families with choice and flexibility. Additionally, the province will enhance the availability of flexible models of care for a changing economy and labour market – for example, child care spaces that are available on weekends and overnight to support people who work shifts.

To ensure child care spaces are also created in locations and for populations most in need — including for children with special needs, Indigenous and Franco-Ontarian communities — Ontario is launching a $213 million grant program for new and existing operators. These one-time grants, prioritizing regions with historically low rates of space availability, will help child care operators offset the initial costs of expanding or creating spaces, such as purchasing equipment or renovating facilities.

To date, 92 per cent of Ontario’s licensed child care sites have enrolled in the CWELCC system. Families across the province with children in these centres are already seeing fee reductions of up to 25 per cent, retroactive to April 1, 2022. By the end of this year, families with children under the age of six in participating licensed child care programs will see a further fee reduction of up to 50 per cent relative to 2020 levels.

“Access to affordable, high-quality, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care is increasingly becoming a reality for families in Ontario, and across the country,” said Karina Gould, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “The fee reduction announced today for centres as part of the Canada-wide system is a key step toward our ultimate goal for an average of $10-a-day regulated child care. We will continue to work with the provinces and territories toward a better future for children, and families, everywhere in Canada.”

Ontario remains committed to the success of the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system and will continue to work with municipalities and stakeholders across the province to ensure affordable child care is available in communities where it is needed most.

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