The Ontario government has released new details about where 53,000 new and affordable licenced child-care spaces will be located.
The new spaces will be part of the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system, meaning the cost to parents who enroll their children in these centres will be reduced to about $10 a day by September 2026.
The province previously committed to creating 86,000 child-care spaces as part of its agreement with the federal government. The location of these spaces was announced Monday at a joint news conference hosted by Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeman.
According to officials, the new spaces were allocated to communities “using a model that incorporates demographics, socio-economic indicators, and existing licenced child-care capacity.”
The centres will be a mix of not-for-profit and for-profit centres, which the province says will 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,” officials said in a statement. “For example, child care spaces that are available on weekends and overnight to support people who work shifts.”
Just over a third of the new spaces are set to be created in the Greater Toronto Area, with Peel Region being allocated a majority of 7,621 new spaces.
Toronto is set to receive 5,763 spots while Durham has 2,029 and York has 1,049.
Other municipalities being allocated more than 1,000 new child-care spaces include Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Windsor, Simcoe, Wellington, Niagara, and Waterloo.
There has been an increase in demand for child-care spaces in Ontario as a result of the CWELCC, which the financial accountability officer warned could leave the province short more than 220,000 spots—despite the new promised spaces.
According to the report, families of about 227,146 children will be left unable to access $10-a-day child care by 2026.
There is some funding available through the $10.2 billion multi-government agreement.
The government said Monday it is launching a $213 million grant program for operators who create child-care centres in communities most in need.
“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,” officials said.
About 92 per cent of Ontario’s existing licensed child-care sites have opted into the CWELCC system. Fees for parents with children in these facilities were reduced by 25 per cent retroactive to April 1, 2022, and will be reduced again by the end of the year to about 50 per cent of 2020 levels.
A memo obtained by CTV News Toronto in October shows the province committed to ensuring revenue for child-care operators who opt in to the program remains unchanged through the end of 2023; however it is unclear what will happen after next year. The revenue will be covered with an additional $1.2 billion of funding, according to the memo.
The ministry of education said in the memo it is working on the development of a new funding formula that “aims to integrate the current approach for allocating child-care funds with the new CWELCC program in order to support the need for clarity and transparency.”
With files from the Canadian Press
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