Reimbursements for child care services in Ontario were due to begin in May. It may not happen.

0

When Ontario signed a deal with the federal government to introduce $10-a-day childcare, the province said parents would start seeing discounts in May — but with the program still in its infancy , the sector says that is unlikely to happen.

As CBC News previously reported, Ontario parents may have to wait months longer than expected for the rebates and rebates promised by the province.

Municipalities are responsible for processing applications from child care operators and allocating funds in their areas, but the money has only recently flowed to them and they are still in the process of establishing their own lines. guidelines.

Ontario government spokespersons have repeatedly declined to answer on the number of registered operators so far. When asked if the number was zero, they did not answer directly.

“We’re putting money back in the pockets of hard-working parents across the province with a 50% reduction in child care fees this year, down to an average of $10 a day by average September 2025,” said a written statement attributed to Stephen Lecce, who struck the deal as education minister in late March.

But in the city of Toronto, the number is indeed nil. A city spokeswoman said officials are still reviewing the province’s guidelines and drafting communications for operators.

Carolyn Ferns, public policy and government relations coordinator for the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, said it will take time.

“It’s probably very frustrating for the parents, who were told, really – wrongly – when the Prime Minister [Doug] Ford has signed the agreement that these rebates will begin to be paid in May,” she said.

“But that was never a realistic timeline and they probably should have known that.”

The agreement with Ontario was the last needed to meet Trudeau’s commitment to reduce child care costs to an average of $10 a day in every province and territory by the end of 2026. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Earlier this month, Derek Tsang asked his daughter’s daycare center in Toronto about the discounts, knowing the government had announced they would begin in May. But the crux of the answer was what many parents heard: We don’t have enough information yet and we still have several months before we have to make up our minds.

“It’s a bit of a disappointment,” he said.

“I’m worried about the delay that there will be a change of government. Will the rules change? Will my daycare apply? Does my daycare qualify because they don’t offer only half a day? There’s a lot of uncertainty now and I guess it was a promise made but a promise broken.”

Parents will see further cost reduction in December

Ontario was the latest province to sign on to the federal plan to reduce child care costs for children aged five and under to an average of $10 a day by 2025. The government said at the time that initial rebates for reductions of up to 25 per cent would begin in May, retroactive to April 1.

Parents should see further cost reduction in December, when fees are reduced by an average of 50%, ahead of the $10 target.

The government recently said child care operators have had details of the scheme “for many weeks” and it is now up to them to apply.

But they have until September to apply and some operators might not feel able to make a decision until much closer to the deadline.

Provincial guidelines for the operation of the program were released in April and contain 74 pages of rules. Some child care operators say they have trouble parsing bureaucratic language and need a lot more questions answered before they can apply.

The process will likely be the smoothest for municipally run daycares, and much less so for independent daycares, which do not have existing funding agreements with municipalities.

Sharon Siriboe, director of the Ontario Association of Independent Child Care Centers, said wording in the provincial guidelines that municipal service managers will have “discretion” to determine allowable expenses and financial viability raises concerns.

Private companies are reluctant to open their books to the government, nor are they sure whether joining the system to lower fees for parents will mean they will have to suffer a personal loss.

Many operators have taken out loans on their own homes to open their centers, said Siriboe, which also operates a daycare center in Mississauga, Ont.

“As it stands, we don’t have an actual contract that indicates ABC Daycare is entering into an agreement with the Region of Peel or the Town of Simcoe or anything,” she said. “We don’t have an actual document that spells that out and what it will look like.”

It’s unclear, for example, whether a center that has a $1,000 fee and reduces it to $750 in line with the initial 25% reduction would recoup that $250 for every dollar, Siriboe said.

“For me, it would be an absolute joy to be able to say that we are reducing our fees to an average of $10,” she said.

“We are now (about) a month after they dropped the 74-page document on us and it’s radio silence.”

The government says municipal service managers are now using these guidelines to develop local registration processes and when funding will be released to operators to reduce fees will depend on each municipality’s process, but it is expected to happen between May and December.

Share.

Comments are closed.