Everything You Need To Know About Ontario's New Universally Accessible Childcare

Ontario has just committed to creating affordable child-care spaces for every parent who wants them

It will be news to no parent in Ontario that our child care system has been in crisis for a long time. The tragic death of Eva Ravikovich, who was attending an unlicensed, way overcrowded daycare when she was forgotten in a car on a hot day and died, opened many people’s eyes to the failings of our system. What happened to her is the product of a system that is incredibly overpopulated, overpriced and overburdened, with child care workers who are woefully underpaid and underappreciated. 

Our system has needed an injection of interest from the provincial government for a very long time, as families struggle to find safe, clean and available spots for their kids. The pipe dream of affordable spots has long since burst.

The childcare system needs help, and it finally, at long last, appears to be getting it.

Today, the government is announcing some important initiatives to improve the situation for Ontario families who need childcare and for the people who are charged to take care of our most precious members of the population.

The new system is described as “universally accessible,” and builds on earlier plans to make available 100,000 licensed spots throughout the province, doubling current capacity.

According to the Star, we Ontarians pay among the highest daycare rates in the country and “middle-income parents are most disadvantaged because their incomes are too high to qualify for fee subsidies but too low to afford the staggering cost of licensed care.” No surprise to any of us. What is a surprise (maybe) is that a whopping three-quarters of families can’t afford to pay for licensed daycare. Three-quarters! So it’s not just you, or just me. It’s pretty much all of us.

Here are things you need to know about what the initiatives will include:

  • New funding to non-profit home child-care agencies to make it more affordable for home daycare operators to become licensed.
  • New strategies to address affordability issues
  • Increased wages for workers in the child care sector
  • More inclusion for children with special needs
  • A new definition of ‘quality’ in programs for kids up to age 12

It’s more than just making it more affordable to families. It’s also about incentivising daycare workers to stay in their jobs, rather than seeking more lucrative work. It’s about paying them what they deserve for taking care of our kids.

According to the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario, almost 24 per cent of registered early childhood educators working in licensed child care earn less than $15 an hour (the proposed new minimum wage). Can you imagine watching a room full of kids all day, every day? We definitely do not pay these amazing people enough.

Politics aside, this update to our system is long overdue. It is vital to the safety and security of our children, and the ability for Ontario families to go to work every day. We need to be confident our children are well cared for, and that we won’t have to continue to go broke in the hopes we have picked a safe spot for our kids, whether that be in a home, or in a centre.

It will be care for every child, no matter income, no matter family circumstance, no matter physical and intellectual need and no matter of location.

Universal accessible childcare. Music to Ontario families’ ears. 

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