Toronto mother Wendy LaRose has watched as other provinces sign on for $10-a-day daycare. She wants Ontario and the federal government to sign a daycare deal that would save her hundreds of dollars a month.
“What is the holdup?” asked LaRose. “What’s causing Ontario to having to be standing here waiting, parents struggling?”
LaRose had her daughter in daycare since she was six months old. It was a struggle financially and although out-of-school care is cheaper for Mireya, who is now six years old, it still adds up to more than $600 per month.
“They’ve had enough time… It shouldn’t take this long.”
Ontario is one of the last provinces yet to sign on with Ottawa for $10-a-day daycare.
Ontario’s education minister, Stephen Lecce, said the aim of the drawn-out negotiations is to “land a fair deal that reduces costs and brings us to $10-a-day, which is what the federal government committed.”
“The government is very committed to landing a fair deal for Ontario families. It is so obvious that child care is inaccessible and unaffordable to too many families,” said Lecce.
New Brunswick is also in negotiations with the Trudeau government.
Flavio Nienow, communications officer for the New Brunswick Education and Early Childhood Development department, said: “We remain committed to carefully negotiating a deal that would maximize access to affordable, quality child care and respond to the unique challenges and realities of New Brunswick’s early learning sector – which consists primarily of small, for-profit businesses that are owned and operated by female entrepreneurs.”
On Nov. 15, Alberta signed on with Ottawa.
Premier Jason Kenney stated he held out to make sure private child-care operators were included in the deal.
The agreement will cut child-care fees in half next year and bring the cost down to $10-a-day within five years.
Sherly Gow and Dawn Eagles, both students in the early childhood education program at MacEwan University, in Edmonton, Alta., celebrated the new deal.
“It’s taken approximately 50 to 100 years,” said Eagles.
“I think this will make a great difference for parents. I think they’ll find child care is more affordable.”
Gow, also the owner of not-for-profit Discovery Place Preschool and Out of School Care, said the pandemic likely highlighted the critical need for early childhood programs.
“I’m wondering if parents having to stay at home with their children recognize how important early child care educators are?”
She added other European countries like Finland fund and support early child-care development.
But both Gow and Eagles said the newly inked deal with Ottawa does not include out-of-school care, which covers six to 12 year olds.
“School-aged children are a really high number of people in the province of Alberta,” said Eagles.
Surrounded by other early childhood education students, Eagles and Gow said they will continue to fight for higher wages for workers.
“We’ve been fighting for higher wages for educators and quality care in general,” said Gow.
“We also want to increase the wages for educators in the field, so they can also have a good quality of life,” added Eagles.
LaRose said the patience of parents in Ontario is wearing thin.
Like most other provinces and one territory that have signed on, they say parents in Ontario need a break on fees too.
“Ten dollars a day, I can start thinking about how I can use that extra money to put into a retirement savings plan for my daughter,” said LaRose.
“I can start thinking about how we can put more food on the table. I can start thinking about maybe even vacation.
“Let’s move forward just like the other provinces.”
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