How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff that the province is trying to resolve.
For decades in Ontario, the daycare system was widely regarded as a model of success that provided affordable childcare and good outcomes for kids.
The province’s Family Day Care program was introduced in 2007 and offered all kids in the province — regardless of age — daycare for a set number of hours each day, or $10 a day, for a set number of years.
It was supposed to be part of a balanced approach to child care that would provide the best of both worlds for parents and kids — an income-targeted program with early learning, care for kids’ special needs — and a system that is both affordable and efficient.
But a series of scandals over the past decade have sparked a political reckoning of sorts in Ontario, with parents and kids and advocates accusing the province of making bad choices.
For-profit or not, by the early 2020s, it’s impossible to know how this program will turn out.
“It’s not only one of the worst decisions made by the Liberals and the PC government of the past decade,” said Michelle Tan, who with her family has a weekly child care space at the Scarborough Day Care Centre in Toronto, which is operated by the Toronto District School Board.
“What they’ve done is they’ve put out a system that’s completely dysfunctional,” said Tan, whose 14-year-old daughter is waiting for an application for a space at the Scarborough centre.
To find out more, we sent three high-level bureaucrats to help determine if this costly program is worth it.
1. Why was the province’s $10-a-day child care program introduced?
It was meant to be a long-term solution to the problem, first proposed by