How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff that should surprise no one who cares about the welfare of children.
As Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government prepares to spend $4 billion on daycare for all 8,000 children in Ontario under the Liberals’ new universal child-care plan, it is faced with a hard reality: The plan will almost certainly face a court challenge, and many in the business community believe there are serious flaws in implementation.
But for the Liberals, the stakes are higher. A court challenge could also leave the Liberals with an angry and indignant public who won’t be willing to put up with further cuts to a daycare system with 730,000 kids on its rolls. Indeed, as Wynne prepares to announce her government’s child-care plan on June 21, she faces a political backlash even if she wins the court challenge.
So far, the government and its critics are arguing over the very basics: Whether the government has followed the law. And whether the government has consulted properly on the plan’s many components. Critics say the government should have consulted with unions to ensure that the plan would not result in for-profit or private daycares in every part of the province. Liberals say they did consult with the unions, and argue that the current plan is a fair compromise that respects individual family decisions.
“It’s pretty simple,” said Richard Marceau, president of the Ontario Association of Family and Community Child Care Centres, which represents nearly 1,000 centres. “We have had a reasonable time to review the [child-care] model, and our main concern is that the government is meeting their obligations under the law, and ensuring that all of the money is going to the centres that are best suited to meet the needs of Ontario children.”
Ontario parents will likely be more disappointed with their child-care expenses