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Ottawa daycares struggling under $10-a-day program

It’s been a rocky start to the $10-a-day daycare program in Ontario. There still aren’t enough spots and many daycares are short funding and say they may opt-out all together.

But now the province is promising major changes to the funding model to try and fix the program. This has been in the works for years and it all comes down to the funding model to make this sustainable. Wait lists continue to grow daily and childcare providers are struggling to keep up with the cost.

For one Kanata based daycare, opting in to the program has been a struggle.

“I have salaries, I have rent, I have expenses, I have food to provide for the kids, and it doesn’t match. The time is not working for me,” said Saba Al-Odeh, who is the owner of Little Heroes Daycare.

Many parents spend thousands of dollars in childcare costs every month. Affordable spaces are scarce.

A new push by Ontario to change the way daycares are funded is starting in 2025, but it is not clear what that will mean or how many subsidized spaces it will lead to.

“I am trying to find the money to pay on time,” said Al-Odeh. Currently, the wait list at her business is more than 400 people.

“I say my advice is put your child on more than one waitlist and pray for us to stay open. It was supposed to be a profitable business and I’m not making a profit,” she said.

The province has been working towards moving to a cost based funding approach since 2022, so far this year, the government has put more than $98 million dollars towards “emerging issues” to help with costs.

There are still many unknowns with the funding model, including what it will look like.

The City of Ottawa says it doesn’t even know the answer for that and the start date of Jan. 1, 2025 is fast approaching. The city is responsible for making sure that the daycares transition smoothly in licensed locations, including at homes, schools, and centres.

A spokesperson from the city wasn’t available to comment on-camera, but in a statement to CTV News, says in part, “We are mindful of the limited time to transition smoothly and there’s a need to manage multiple demands, including staffing and operational pressures, like the cost of running the business altogether.”

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