Serving Toronto's most liveable community with the Annex Gleaner

EDITORIAL: Ford stalls, families suffer (Jan. 2022)

February 4th, 2022 · No Comments

Under the questionable leadership of Premier Doug Ford, Ontario is now the only province in Canada which has not signed onto the federally funded daycare plan that would see fees cut to $10 per day per child by 2025. The federal formula would give Ontario $10.2 billion over five years which is its per capita share. But Ford says that’s not enough and Ontario deserves more than other jurisdictions.

The new national Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) program originated as an election promise, a key plank in the federal Liberal party platform, in the last election. The plan is budgeted to spend $30 billion over five years. 

The federal government is clearly flustered with Ford as it is so close to achieving a nationwide goal and our premier is playing the spoiler. Every province and territory except Ontario have found a way to make this laudable national program work within their respective frameworks. Karina Gould, the federal minister for Families, Children and Social Development said the federal government sent a term paper to provinces and territories ten months ago asking for a strategy to reduce fees and create child-care spaces – but has yet to hear back from Ontario.

It appears that the Ontario government, ever mindful of its requirement to hold a general election by June, would like to hold our province’s parents and children hostage for a while longer so he can try and claim a victory lap as near to the election date as possible. It’s all about him.

The need for affordable, accessible, quality child-care has been around for a very long time, but two years of pandemic shut downs have made this need even more obvious. Parents working from home have struggled to simultaneously keep their jobs and care for their children. Women have by far borne the brunt of these burdens as our economy still functions on the basis of a massive wage gap, with women earning roughly 89 cents for every dollar earned by men, and the cost of child-care is quite simply, prohibitive. The federal government estimates that at least 16,000 women left the job market because of the pandemic, many to care for their children.

Daycare costs range from $450/month in Winnipeg to about $1,600/month in Toronto. That’s the median, many pay much more if they are lucky enough to find a space. For lower income families, affordable child-care would make a massive difference, allowing both parents to enter the workforce. 

Indeed, according to Armine Yalnizyan, an economist at the Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, getting more women into the work force will help the economy overall, “it’s a domino effect.”

The Province of Ontario has argued it is entitled to more money than other provinces because it has full-time kindergarten and it wants the federal government to assume the cost of that too. 

“I can’t figure why Minister Lecce [Ontario’s education minister] and Doug Ford think that this child-care money should help the provincial government’s bottom line instead of a family’s bottom line,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. Ontario’s Coalition for Better Child Care agreed that the funding sought to offset existing provincial programs is misguided, “the money is for lowering child-care fees [to $10 per day], not for giving Ontario a cookie!”


Tags: Annex · Editorial · Opinion