SCARBOROUGH — Premier Doug Ford is asking child care centres to open as soon as Friday, with three days’ notice — but he’s not providing the financial support that is required and he’s counting on enough parents not sending their kids back to daycare. With fewer kids and higher costs for screening, personal protective equipment, and cleaning, Ford may be setting child care centres up for fee hikes, or permanent shut downs.
“Many child care centres are hanging on by a thread, struggling to pay the rent and bills to make it through the pandemic closures,” said NDP Early Learning and Child Care critic Doly Begum. “By refusing to give them the financial support they need, Doug Ford may be forcing child care centres to hike fees, or shut down forever — and if the centres close, there won’t be any space secured for families.”
When re-opening, they’ll need to buy PPE, add new screening, and add additional cleaning and disinfecting. Those requirements are good, said Begum — but without financial support to get it all done, Ford is setting the child care centres up for failure.
Ontario already has the highest child care costs in the nation — rising to more than $20,000 a year for infant spaces.
“We have too few child care spaces, and they cost too much,” said Begum. “This government, like the one before it, doesn’t prioritize and invest in making child care accessible and affordable. But they’ve hit a breaking point — either we invest in child care now, or risk losing more spaces.”
Begum said there can be no economic recovery in Ontario without a “she-covery” — since working parents, and especially women, will find it difficult or impossible to return to work without child care options.
The Ford government already cost Ontario thousands of planned child care spaces when it make deep cuts to municipalities, including municipal child care.