How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff with the province’s teachers’ union.
The system’s costs have risen to as much as $1.35 billion a year, according to the province, from about $2.4 million a year to date. And while the Liberals have committed to keeping the number at about $10 per day by 2020, the Liberal government said it could raise the price to between $12 and $14 per day in the context of a $10 minimum wage and $30 universal child care rate, which would increase the cost by about 25 per cent.
Liberal MPP Lisa MacLeod had already rejected a Liberal government bill that would have raised the price to $12 per day and then, in her final speech on the subject before the fall election, she made it clear that the price tag was likely to go in the range of $10 per day. (For-profits already pay employees for child care, but most daycare centres are run by not-for-profits, and so are not required to pay hourly wages.) To win support for the legislation, the Liberals must secure the votes of MacLeod and the NDP government, but the latter has indicated she is prepared to vote against the bill in committee.
The government has also said it is willing to negotiate on the issue, but, while it said it was willing to pay child care centres in Ontario a “fair price,” teachers in the province want the government to stick to its budgeted $10 per day starting in 2015. And they have warned it would be politically difficult to negotiate a higher price, given that the Liberal Liberals had promised a 10 per cent increase on the previous Liberal budget, and that the education teachers have been on strike since Nov. 17, in an effort to improve their bargaining power.
It will be some time before the Liberal Liberals know whether they have won, or lost, on this file. There are now five days to go before the election.
But while the Liberals tried to finesse the for-profit-daycare issue during the election campaign