GET THE FACTS ABOUT CHILD CARE POLICY AND FUNDING IN ONTARIO


What You Need To Know About Alleged Provincial "Cuts" to Child Care FundingLike many parents, you may be seeing news items about the Provincial government making "cuts" to child care funding. The word "cut" is somewhat misleading. If the Province chooses not to continue a temporary, one-time funding measure, is that really a cut? If the Province actually increases child care funding for most families, through a new tax credit plan and then phases out a program that  handed over a much smaller amount of funds to municipalities in the hope that they would use it to lower child care fees, is that really a cut? Here are the facts about the now defunct Fee Stabilization Supports.In the weeks leading up to the 2018 Provincial election, the former Liberal government handed $50 million to municipalities for so-called Fee Stabilization for child care. It was a poorly designed, hastily rolled out  funding stream. It was also extremely poorly executed by most of Ontario's 47 municipalities. So much so, that a lot of Ontario's licensed child care programs simply opted not to participate because the administrative and reporting requirements were so burdensome. The CARE tax credit that was rolled out with the 2019 Provincial Budget more than replaced this faulty government-centered funding stream and carries with it the advantages of being simpler, more child-centered and serving more families--all with minimal administrative cost and no municipal red tape. Learn more about the CARE tax credit and how it may reduce your child care costs.


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.


 

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