$10-a-day childcare proves to be costly for daycare owners

May 17, 2024 | Canadian News, News, Provincial News

Ontario will implement a new way of providing $10-a-day childcare starting in January 2025.

The Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) program was introduced following pleas from childcare centres, like the YMCA, regarding potential closures as a result of loss of revenue.

The issue is that Ontario childcare centres are now backing out of providing discounted rates due to the lack of governmental funding.

Families Minister Jenna Sudds said daycares are rejecting the program because they are not receiving adequate funding to account for inflation costs.

“[It is a] consequence, unfortunately, of a delay with respect to the province of Ontario coming forward with a sustainable and long-term funding formula for providers,” Sudds said.

While the program aids in providing affordable childcare to parents, daycare centres are being forced to cover the remaining costs, placing them in a hole.

“The funding is helping the parents, but the centres are suffering,” said Omar Tariq, owner of Little Town Childcare and Montessori.

As a privately-owned facility, Tariq and other daycare owners are being forced to supplement costs of teacher salaries, food, and facility expenses out of pocket.

As of March 2022, daycare centres were told they could no longer alter pricing if they wanted to be a part of the CWELCC program, Tariq said.

This was not initially concerning, but as the cost of living increases for necessities such as renting facilities, the cost of running the program became costly, Tariq said.

“The parents are happy because the price was cut by more than 50 per cent, but we’re paying the price,” Tariq said.

This thought was seconded by an official in Ontario’s education minister Stephen Lecce’s office, who is urging the federal government to provide sufficient funding.

“We’re doing things to stabilize the sector but we’re asking Ottawa to step up,” the spokesperson said.

In addition to the lack of funding, Ontario is currently experiencing a shortage of early childhood educators (ECEs).

In November of 2023, Lecce announced ECEs would receive a wage increase to $23.86 an hour from $20 to encourage educators to continue, or begin, a career as an ECE.

Unfortunately, this monetary incentive does little to change the shortage of ECEs and surplus of children in daycares with lesser funding resulting in debt for owners and a dip in quality for children and parents.

Providing the same quality of childcare on a drastically smaller budget is a feat that many daycares are unable to uphold, Tariq said.

The long-term sustainability of these programs is in the balance as Ontario daycares continue to hemorrhage funds to provide affordable childcare to Ontarians, said Tariq.

“We’re doing our part,” the spokesperson in Lecce’s office said. “They need to step up. This is their program.”