Ontario Creating More Affordable Child Care Spaces Across the Province
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
TORONTO — The Ontario government is making child care more affordable and accessible for families across the province, creating an additional 53,000 new, affordable licensed child care spaces by December 2026 – bringing our total to 86,000 new spaces since 2019.
In March 2022, Ontario secured a six-year, $13.2 billion agreement with the federal government which will lower fees for families and deliver an average of $10 a day child care by September 2025. This included an initial investment of $10.2 billion for the first five years of the agreement and an additional commitment for at least $3 billion in year six. Today, as part of that agreement, Ontario is announcing a targeted plan to create new licensed child care spaces, with a focus on increasing access to families across Ontario.
“We are delivering savings directly to families while increasing access to child care spaces in communities small and large,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our government is making child care affordable — with savings averaging between $6,000 to $10,000 per child by the end of this year — and investing in new spaces that will benefit parents for years to come. With the cost of living rising across the country, the Ontario government is increasing access to child care spaces and delivering needed financial relief for families.”
The new spaces will be allocated to communities across Ontario using a model that incorporates demographics, socio-economic indicators, and existing licensed child care capacity. The new spaces will be part of the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system and includes a mix of not-for-profit and for-profit centres, a key priority of the Government of Ontario to respect and ultimately provide families with choice and flexibility. Additionally, the province will enhance the availability of flexible models of care for a changing economy and labour market – for example, child care spaces that are available on weekends and overnight to support people who work shifts.
To ensure child care spaces are also created in locations and for populations most in need — including for children with special needs, Indigenous and Franco-Ontarian communities — Ontario is launching a $213 million grant program for new and existing operators. These one-time grants, prioritizing regions with historically low rates of space availability, will help child care operators offset the initial costs of expanding or creating spaces, such as purchasing equipment or renovating facilities.
To date, 92 per cent of Ontario’s licensed child care sites have enrolled in the CWELCC system. Families across the province with children in these centres are already seeing fee reductions of up to 25 per cent, retroactive to April 1, 2022. By the end of this year, families with children under the age of six in participating licensed child care programs will see a further fee reduction of up to 50 per cent relative to 2020 levels.
“Access to affordable, high-quality, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care is increasingly becoming a reality for families in Ontario, and across the country,” said Karina Gould, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “The fee reduction announced today for centres as part of the Canada-wide system is a key step toward our ultimate goal for an average of $10-a-day regulated child care. We will continue to work with the provinces and territories toward a better future for children, and families, everywhere in Canada.”
Ontario remains committed to the success of the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system and will continue to work with municipalities and stakeholders across the province to ensure affordable child care is available in communities where it is needed most.
Ontario’s child care system offers a range of options for families with differing needs, including licensed, unlicensed, for-profit, not-for-profit, centre/school-based and home-based child care.
To ensure improved access, new child care space allocations will focus on the creation of affordable spaces in communities with children who need them most – rural communities, growth communities, low-income children, vulnerable children, children from diverse communities, children with special needs, Francophone and Indigenous children.
The Ontario government is streamlining the application process for new child care operators when they apply for a licence. They will learn about their eligibility for child care funding before investing heavily in becoming licensed. The applicants will also have to submit key municipal approvals, including zoning and permitted use, together with their application. This will significantly reduce the time it takes the applicant to acquire a licence.
Currently, there are more than 5,500 child care centres, 139 licensed home child care agencies, and around 464,000 licensed spaces in Ontario.
Since 2018, the Ontario government has invested over $1.5 billion in capital projects within the education sector, including 4,908 new, licensed child care spaces within schools. In 2021, the Ontario government invested more than $95 million to create 3,094 more school-based licensed child care spaces for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
On November 24, 2022, the government announced an expansion to the dual credit program to attract 420 students over two years into Early Childhood Education career pathways.
"This announcement is going to put more power in the hands of parents across Ontario. As a mother of five children, I know how important child care is. In order for women with children to reach their full economic potential they need to have affordable child care options. It is an added benefit that we will also be delivering savings to families throughout the province. This is just another example of our governments commitment to ensuring women and families have the resources they need to be successful."
- Charmaine Williams Associate Minister of Women's Social and Economic Opportunity
"We are pleased to see the expansion of licensed child care spaces in communities across Ontario. Children and families will benefit from more equitable access to affordable, high-quality, licensed care. As Ontario’s largest provider of licensed child care, we are eager to work together with the Province and our municipal partners to expand child care, particularly in equity-deserving communities with diverse populations."
- Linda Cottes Senior Vice-President of Child and Family Development, YMCA of Greater Toronto and Chair of the YMCA Ontario Child Care Advisory Group
"AMO is pleased that the federal and provincial governments are working together to lower child care fees and make other improvements to Ontario’s child care and early years system. Municipal governments and District Social Service Administration Boards are playing a key role to make this a reality in communities. New investments to create new, high-quality child-care spaces are needed and will benefit more children and their families in Ontario"
- Colin Best President, Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and Councillor, Halton Region
"In this challenging economy, working parents continue to demand high quality programs. In our 30 years we have worked hard to provide a quality program in Peel Region. We enrolled in the CWELCC system to allow us to continue to provide quality services to families – that families can afford. CWELCC reduces the fees and gives families money to help with other expenses. We applaud the province for working with other levels of government to make child care more affordable and accessible to the folks who need it."
- Jacky Owner of Streetsville Children’s Centre