Ontario Parents Still Waiting for the Child Care they Deserve

Updated on

In an op-ed for the Hamilton Spectator, Judith Bishop writes that the CWELCC agreement in Ontario promised affordable, high-quality child care under public and non-profit auspices, yet the reality falls short of expectations.

Bishop says that while child-care fees have become more affordable, the supply of spaces hasn’t increased to meet demand, leaving many families struggling to secure care. Limited access to inclusive services makes finding care for children with special needs especially difficult. Staffing shortages further hinder the expansion of quality child care. At the same time, non-profit centres face financial deficits, risking closures, further exacerbating the waitlist problem.

With the fee replacement model, the government has based its funding on fees charged by centres in 2022. Bishop points out that commercial operators that charged higher fees to parents in 2022 are therefore disproportionately benefiting from public subsidies, while non-profit centres that worked hard to make their care affordable in 2022 are suffering with insufficient funding.

On top of the inequities in fee-replacement funding, Bishop criticizes the government for giving for-profit operators a proportionately greater share of the funding for staff wages. “As [for-profit operators] generally pay their staff less than nonprofit and public providers, they also stand to gain most from Ontario’s modest wage enhancements.” Bishop explains that this is because for-profit staff will get a larger (provincially-funded) top-up to their wages than staff that were paid a better wage in nonprofit and public centres.

Ontario’s recent funding announcement falls short, Bishop says, with reduced support and costs shifted to municipalities, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to accessible, inclusive child care. The discrepancy in funding and accountability raises questions about the province’s dedication to fulfilling the CWELCC agreement and delivering the child care families deserve.

To conclude her op-ed, Bishop challenges the Ontario government: “Is Ontario deliberately setting up the Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care agreement to fail? When will parents get the child care they deserve?”

(op ed by Judith Bishop in the Hamilton Spectator)

Read the full article with more information on thespec.com