Ontario has signed a $13.2 billion deal with the federal government that will cut child care costs in the province in half by the end of the year, the premier said Monday.
CBC News reported Sunday, based on government sources, that the province and federal government have reached an agreement after months of negotiations.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford appeared together Monday morning alongside other political leaders to officially announce the deal at a YMCA daycare center in Brampton, Ont.
Ontario’s deal is the last needed to meet Trudeau’s pledge to cut child care costs to an average of $10 a day in every province and territory by the end of 2026. The government provincial hopes to implement a program of $ 10 a day care, although this rate is not expected to occur until September 2025.
Trudeau said the new program will provide an average savings of $6,000 per child, “real money for families” at a time when a range of household costs are rising.
He also called the deal a “historic moment” now that all provinces and territories have signed child care agreements.
“Child care is becoming a reality for all Canadians,” he said.
Ford, who will begin a provincial election campaign in weeks, touted the deal as one of many ways his Progressive Conservative government is saving people money, referring to other measures such as rebates on license plate renewal fees.
“This is good business for Ontario parents and good business for Ontarians,” he said. “It’s an agreement that provides flexibility in how
we are allocating federal funds, a flexibility that is essential to make this deal work for Ontario. »
In the meantime, parents can expect their fees to drop by around 25%. Here is what will happen in the coming months:
Beginning April 1, 2022, families with children five and under at participating licensed child care centers, including licensed home child care, will have their fees reduced by up to 25%, to a minimum of 12 $ per day.
Parental discounts, retroactive to April 1, will begin in May. The rebate is in place to accommodate child care operators who may need additional time to adjust their fees. Parents will automatically receive the refund in such cases.
In December 2022, fees will be further reduced to approximately 50% on average.
The agreement outlines a plan to further reduce rates in coming years. Here’s what the longer-term outlook includes:
The five-year child care plan was to include $1 billion for Ontario in the first year, 2021-22. Since this fiscal year ends in four days, the federal government is giving them more flexibility to defer most of this spending to future years.
Ontario had wanted more certainty beyond the duration of the initial five-year agreement – although the federal government’s budget last year called for funding for the program after year five to be $9 billion. dollars a year – and secured a commitment of $2.9 billion for the sixth year.
The deal will also see Ontario create 86,000 child care spaces, although that number includes more than 15,000 spaces already created since 2019.
Trudeau stressed that creating these additional spaces will not be easy.
“To create spaces, well, it can be done,” he said. “But creating high-quality spaces… is a bigger challenge. And making those high-quality spaces that we’ve created affordable, at $10 a day, is even harder.”
Despite this, the Prime Minister said there was a firm commitment to do so.
As for where these new spaces will be built, Ford said his government will focus on areas that need them, including high-priority neighborhoods and Indigenous communities.
He also discussed the need to attract more child care workers to fill these extra spaces.
“The one part that’s absolutely essential… getting more people to work in early childhood education,” Ford said. “To be honest, they deserve more money. That’s my opinion and we’ll work on it.”
Following the announcement, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce said affordable and accessible child care will allow more women to participate in the workforce as the economy continues to recover. the pandemic.
The statement also addressed the need for an adequate supply of skilled workers.
“This will require recognizing foreign credentials, improving online training, accelerating school graduations and developing financial support for underemployed populations to access training opportunities,” said Claudia Dessanti, Senior Policy Director of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in a press release. .