How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff.
The crisis facing Ontario’s daycare sector — and a government showdown — is all about affordability.
More and more new Ontario child care arrangements, and the daycare funding they contain, are being sold as more affordable. But as the province’s for-profit daycare operators — with the help of lobbyists and government officials — put new daycare contracts on the fast track, that rhetoric doesn’t address how those families and children will actually afford it.
“It is a crisis in terms of affordability,” said Lorie Fride, senior vice-president and co-founder of the Child Care Advocacy Centre in Toronto.
“What the province is getting for $10 a day is not actually what these families in poverty are using as their income. For them to be able to afford it, they’ve got to be able to earn more than they’re currently working at.”
The government is taking steps to tighten the playing field for Ontario families to access child care, but the province’s for-profit sector is working with the government to advance its own expansionist agenda by making sure its own services don’t lose out.
The for-profit daycares that are now proliferating in Ontario are so underpaid and understaffed, so overworked and under-resourced, they have been described as “fraudulent” by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
But parents in the sector describe an economy more akin to the sweatshops that were once prevalent in the garment industry: overworked, under-paid, under-resourced, and exploitative.
The for-profit sector has said the province’s new regulation, which will see more for-profit daycares be required to provide the same level of training, experience, and financial support to parents, will drive “a significant number” of their