Premier Doug Ford’s promise to affordable daycare is being questioned by Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, who is unsure when or if Ontario would sign on to the federal government’s $30 billion plan.
The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to halving rates for licensed non-profit child care spaces by next year, and then decreasing them to $10 per day by 2026.
However, Ontario is one of only three provinces that has yet to sign a formal agreement with the federal government. Alberta and New Brunswick are the other two provinces.
Premier Doug Ford said earlier this month that his government has had some “great conversations” with federal officials and wants a deal so long as it is the “right deal.”
But he has not indicated what is holding up negotiations and Monday’s throne speech made no references to $10 a day childcare, much to the chagrin of opposition leaders.
“We know that eight provinces and territories have deals in place and working families in this province are wondering why are they being treated differently?” Del Duca said while speaking with reporters following the speech. “Why has Doug Ford not made this a priority? Why has he not made that a clear priority especially given that some of the other places around the country already have deals in place? There is no reason to wait, there is no reason to delay and it is particular discouraging given the lack of content and the empty rhetoric we saw in the speech today.”
Toronto is the most expensive city in Canada for child care with parents paying an average of $1,600 in monthly fees per child.
That means that many parents of younger children in the city and its surrounding suburbs would be in line to save hundreds of dollars a month if Ontario signs onto the program.
On Monday Del Duca was asked whether the government could be looking to negotiate other concessions as part of the child-care deal, such as funding to offset the cost of the province’s junior kindergarten program which involves some early childhood learning aspects.
“It didn’t stop the other eight provinces and territories, and these are provinces and territories where governments come in all shapes and sizes,” he explained. “I believe Doug Ford fundamentally opposes $10 per day licensed childcare, which is insufficient for working families, particularly working mothers, who have disproportionately borne the brunt of the pandemic’s effects.”
The Liberal plan was first unveiled in April as part of the federal budget, and British Columbia was the first province to sign on in July.
The first five years of the Liberal plan will focus on support for not-for-profit child-care providers, meaning that parents with children in home daycares and at for-profit child-care centres will not initially benefit.