How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff over costs.
Under a controversial contract signed in August 2013, Ontario’s for-profit care providers, most of them part of United Learning Group under the name Learning House, are required to pay their daycares more than $100,000 a year — even in years when there are less than a dozen children in the home.
The new contract — negotiated by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCSS) with the province’s largest for-profit child care providers — allows only for-profit providers to bill the province for a large and growing proportion of the daycare fees paid by parents.
The fees are expected to rise to nearly $150,000 in 2017, with higher fees scheduled to follow under a new contract to be signed in 2018.
This week, the province said it would hold an urgent meeting with the United Learning Group, a consortium of Ontario’s largest for-profit daycares.
“We will be seeking to find common ground and to find out what we can do to manage the increasing costs,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, the province’s minister of children and families.
The for-profit daycares say the new contract will give them greater choice, improved service quality and lower fees, while putting pressure on parents to move to the government-subsidized, long-term care services.
In an interview, Bethlenfalvy said that he wants to ensure the government is putting its money where its mouth is.
“We have always made it clear to them that we are concerned about their future solvency and that they can’t, they simply can’t make these higher fees at the end of the day,” he said.
United Learning Group spokeswoman Lisa Vickers said Ontario’s largest for-profit daycares had a meeting last