How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff
This post originally appeared at CTVNews.ca.
Linda Rennie, the CEO of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, was a frequent visitor to Kathleen Wynne’s office in the last year, to offer support on the province’s child-care plan.
“I was there every day for every meeting she had,” Rennie, who oversees the entire mental-health system across Toronto, told me.
The situation was particularly dire in Toronto, she said, where almost half of children rely on non-residential care, the lowest proportion in the province.
“If you do the math, more than half of kids who live here would be in child care,” she said. In the worst scenario, she said, 20 students a day are being diverted to the non-residential child-care option, with no guarantee of quality, at a cost of more than $300 million.
The Liberal government has committed to covering every child in a non-residential setting within two years, but the pressure is intense for a province in the midst of a recession.
And while the Liberals have defended the expansion as the right thing to do and the “only” way to save money, the opposition Conservatives and Toronto city council are demanding that all of the city’s daycares be closed — and that parents be fined up to $1,000 per child.
To add to the pressure, the Conservatives have just launched their “baby-friendly” campaign, with the tagline “It’s important to make sure we have the right amount of kids in our homes.”
With headlines ranging from “Saving money means making families with kids less safe” to “No more free kids for you,” the debate over whether there’s a