How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff over how to pay for it.
On a spring afternoon last year, the first child-care worker in a new, $10-a-day child-care program showed up at the door of her downtown home on a Saturday afternoon to ask for money for the child, whose mother works at a nearby daycare.
“I gave her my card, but she said, ‘I don’t have a debit card,’” said the woman. She was alone.
The woman’s employer, the owner of the daycare, asked that she come in anyway. She took off her shoes and sat on her couch. There, she says, she laid out her card, a “reloadable” debit card (she said she was too nervous to call the bank to get one), and told them she had more money in the bank than she needed.
“You should have seen the look on their faces when they opened the door,” she says.
The woman got the money. The following week came the first day of classes.
The city that was supposed to be the first province to fund child-care for all its families turned out to be Ontario’s capital for for-profit daycares, which have become “the most popular form of child care in Ontario” and one of the most expensive in Canada, according to research.
The for-profit daycares, long a feature of Ontario’s child-care landscape, have become something of a bogeyman, the subject of heated debates in the Legislature and across the political parties about costs and impacts, about whom should pay for them and whether we should even have them at all.
The daycares, which provide child care for children who can’t otherwise get their own caregivers into the door, have grown and changed radically in the past decade, with little oversight from anyone other than the daycare itself. And they’ve become an issue in the