The Liberals’ Child Care Reforms Are Changing the Game

How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff in the Legislature — raising questions about whether government-subsidized child care is a poor value for taxpayers.

On any given day, more than 40 child-care centres accept children for $10 a day or less from parents who are often working.

Critics say the centres are poorly trained and poorly equipped to cater to children from different backgrounds and with special needs, contributing to an overall system that’s a waste of tax dollars.

“The public deserves better. There are few things as dangerous as the under-educated infant,” Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod said in a release about the bill, which would create a new, government-run centre for all types of child care.

“The fact is children in for-profit daycare can be in as good a shape as children in traditional non-profit child care.”

Under former premier Kathleen Wynne’s child-care overhaul, new centres that opened in February will only accept children of one province of origin: children from Quebec will be accepted only at one centre; other children will be placed in new centres. Ontario is the only province that has such policies.

The Liberals have said daycares that are run by for-profit companies should be the same type of centres as are in Quebec. But critics from across the political spectrum argue that this has not been the case at all.

“What about all the children in Ontario that are not eligible for government-subsidized child care?” asked Green Party of Ontario MPP Mike Schreiner. “They are in private for profit and they’re on public subsidy.”

The Liberals’ child-care policy was the subject of cross-party talks in the Legislature this summer over the proposed changes, which were brought in to address an issue that was on the radar screen for a while. Both the public and the province were concerned about the type of child-care centres that exist in the province, and whether the policy has any negative impact.

This was something new. This was the start of something new. – Lisa MacLeod, PC MPP

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