Why You Need to Ask Municipal Officials About Child Care PolicyYou may not realize it, but the policies your Mayor and municipal councillors make for administering Provincial child care dollars has a major impact on whether or not you'll be able to find a licensed child care space when you need one. In 2018 alone, the Provincial government provided municipalities with nearly $1.7 billion to help families access licensed child care. In most cases, only a small portion of that money was actually used to assist families through fee subsidies or other initiatives that may help keep the fees for licensed child care more affordable.As the designated "service system managers," municipalities typically report overhead costs that consume about 20% of the taxpayer dollars they receive from the Province. It is not always easy to track where the rest of the money they receive goes, as the previous Liberal government gave municipalities have a great deal of discretion about how they spend these dollars. How they spend it makes a big difference to whether families can find a licensed child care space, how much they wind up paying for it, and whether or not children are spending months or years on fee subsidy waiting lists while Provincially licensed spaces sit unused.Generally speaking, in areas where municipalities treat all Provincially licensed child care programs equally, accessing licensed child care is easier and more affordable for all families. If municipal officials favor some centres over others, the municipality owns and operates its own licensed centres, or attempts to limit child care expansion to the public or not-for-profit sector, child care becomes harder to find and more expansive for all families in the area, whether or not they are reliant on fee subsidy.This is why it's so important to keep licensed child care front and centre with your municipality. If your city or town has a policy that favours some Provincially licensed centres over others, or that expressly discriminates against Provincially licensed centres that are run as small businesses, ask local officials what they will do to change this policy. Here in Ontario, all Provincially licensed child care centres have to follow the same rules and achieve the same regulatory standards. This has been the case for more than 40 years, so there is no justification for discrimination.  If you live in an area such as Toronto or Ottawa that is still playing favourites, tell your local officials it's time to start respecting parental choice and to put families first.

New Ford Government Helps Alleviate Child Care ShortagesOn August 20, 2018, Ontario's new PC Government took an important step toward alleviating licensed child care shortages across the province. It removed a Ministry of Education policy that prevented licensed child care centres that are run as small businesses from serving families in receipt of fee subsidy, or from lowering parent fees.In 2017, the Wynne government introduced what it called the "for-profit threshold" policy. This policy forced municipalities to reduce and ultimately eliminate all Provincial funding from flowing into licensed child care centres run as small businesses, even if those centres were serving families in receipt of fee subsidy. Wynne's policy resulted in the closure of many licensed child care centres, some of which had been serving their communities for decades. It also caused many licensed child care owner/operators to reconsider their expansion plans. Some independent not-for-profit centres were also negatively impacted by the policy. A number of municipalities actively opposed the Wynne scheme as being detrimental to their citizens' ability to access licensed child care. 

Why Ontario's New Minimum Wage Means You Pay More For Child CareOn June 1, 2017, Kathleen Wynne's Liberal Government introduced Bill 148. The Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act  passed and raised Ontario's minimum wage to $14.00/hour in January of 2018. This, combined with Ontario government funding cuts to independent licensed child care centres left many centres with no choice but to raise fees or close their doors as of January 1, 2018. As this situation was unfolding, Todd and Amy Taus, owner/operators of a licensed child care in Mississauga explained the situation to the Toronto Star. The new minimum wage drove up the labour costs paid by all employers, including licensed child care centres, and raised the prices of most goods and services Ontario families buy. Senior officials within Kathleen Wynne's Ministry of Education acknowledged in June of 2017 that the cost of licensed child care in Ontario would increase by up to 20%. A few months later, the Ministry announced that a very small amount of funding would be made available to help offset some of these costs, but made no information available about how municipalities or child care centres could access it. This left most licensed child care centres with no choice other than to raise parent fees. Others simply closed their doors. Gail Ardiel of Collingwood Little People's Day Care explained her decision to CTV news.

The Child Care & Early Years ActUnder the previous Liberal government, the Ontario Minister of Education tabled Bill 10--The Child Care Modernization Act-- in July of 2014. After the Bill passed, the Liberal Government issued new regulations that came into force in August of 2015. Parents, educators, child care providers and Opposition MPPs have all expressed serious concerns about the Act and the fact that the Government curtailed debate about it. Some parents report feeling that the Act has pushed them into reliance on larger, institutionalized care settings, rather than respecting the broadest range of parental choices. The Act also gave municipal governments the right to weigh in on Provincial licensing decisions. Since many municipalities run their own licensed child care programs, this is a clear conflict of interest. Additionally, the Act imposed new restrictions on the licensed child care sector, allowing Ministry employees to impose penalties of up to $100,000 for an alleged contravention of the Act, with the only right of appeal being a review by another "designated senior employee” from the same Ministry. While it has dramatically increased the cost of providing licensed child care, the new Act has done little to stop overcrowded, illegal day cares from operating, which is why the Liberals claimed they had introduced Bill 10 in the first place.






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