The Ontario Child Care Crisis: The New Cap and Trade System

The Ontario Child Care Crisis: The New Cap and Trade System

How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff

A sign of the high-pressure environment in which daycares are operating in Ontario, where “child-care” services that were affordable for parents to access can now be priced out of reach for families. (Laura Dawson / Photo Store Canada)

Over the past three years, for-profit daycares have turned around the fortunes of many Ontario families who use them — especially parents in lower-income families — by slashing prices and offering a new kind of child-care service that some for-profit firms, such as Sobeys, insist is not really child care.

When Ontario introduced a 10- $10-a-day cap on child care beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the new scheme set off a firestorm of protests, lawsuits and boycotts, and ultimately led a standoff over the province’s child-care strategy on Feb. 10.

“Nobody expected a huge controversy,” says Nancy Visser, a professor of child-care policy at University of Toronto. “What happened was a perfect storm of different things.

“It’s a combination of everything that drives children out of care: low fees, government regulations, the new government’s plans to roll back the previous (for-profit child-care) regime.”

Ontario’s cap-and-trade system, which restricts the price of childcare to a range capped at 10 times the provincial rate, has long been hailed as a consumer-friendly measure that will bring down child-care costs and give parents more options, notes the Star. The cap was designed to prevent parents from paying more for child care than was necessary in order to maintain a certain quality of care.

It was a system that the province had to defend this week when, as part of the battle over the $10-a-day cap, the government imposed legislation that could force for-profit child-care providers to pay into a

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