Infrastructure Fund at last! Will it work?
The much-anticipated federal budget did provide some funding for child care capital. From the budget papers:
In response to requests from provinces and territories, and to support the implementation of the Canada-wide early learning and child care system, Budget 2022 proposes to provide $625 million over four years, beginning in 2023-24, to Employment and Social Development Canada for an Early Learning and Child Care Infrastructure Fund. This funding will enable provinces and territories to make additional child care investments, including the building of new facilities. As noted in Budget 2021, Quebec has been a pioneer in early learning and child care in Canada, and this new funding will be part of an asymmetrical agreement with the province of Quebec that will allow for Quebec to further enhance its child care system.
What will this mean for Ontario?
Details are not yet available and in any event the program doesn’t begin until 2023-24. Based on federal government allocation precedents, we can assume the following:
$650 million/4 years = $156.25 million per year x 38% for Ontario = $59.4 million.
What can we do with $59.4 million?
Currently, the actual cost of new construction is estimated at $721,000 per room (this is a 40% cost escalation from the earlier $515,000 EDU formula). Based on a centre with 49 spaces, this would mean an average cost per space of $44,143.
At a cost of $44,143 per space, Ontario’s share would allow for new construction of 1345 spaces. If we allow for 75 spaces per centre, that would result in about 18 new child care centres per year, or 5380 spaces over 4 years. So, how do the remaining 81,000 plus get funded?