TORONTO — The Ontario Liberals are pledging to provide universal child care for all families and create $10 a day licensed child care if elected next year.
On Thursday, the party released its plan to provide more affordable child care for Ontario families if they are elected in June 2022.
The party plans to work with federal partners to reduce average fees for licensed child care from over $50 a day to $10 a day, an average annual savings of about $10,000 per child, the party said.
The plan will keep subsidies in place for lower-income families with no cost for households with a net income below $20,000 and partial subsidies for those with a family income of up to approx. $45,000.
The reduced costs will be implemented in a phased approach to “create and staff the spaces needed to meet demand.” First, it will apply to preschool children aged 2.5 to four years old by the end of 2022, then toddlers aged 18 months and up by 2023, and all children 0 to four years old by 2024.
“The best way to build lasting prosperity is to help parents stay or reenter the workforce and give children the best start in life,” Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said in a statement. “Every family in Ontario, regardless of the kind of care they choose for their child, will be better off because of our plan.”
The reduced child care fees are in line with the federal Liberals’ budget released last month which includes over $30 billion in new child care spending, including eventually implementing $10 a day child care across the country, except in Quebec which has its own system.
The federal budget seeks to address calls from advocates and businesses to help mothers return to the labour force after their staffing dropped due to daycare closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within 100 days of taking office, the Ontario Liberals also pledged to cut the cost of before and after school care by more than 50 per cent to $10 a day by Sept. 2022.
The 18-month parental leave program is also set to be revamped to allow new parents to stay at home longer with their newborns without their employment insurance benefits being reduced by the end of next year.
For families not using licensed child care, the Liberals plan to enhance the Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses tax credit to an average of $2,000 in regular advance payments.
The party also proposed more inclusive care options for racialized groups, including a focus on licensed home care expansion and an equitable funding approach for First Nations communities.
Furthermore, the Liberals plan to provide free tuition for early childhood education programs at Ontario colleges and “enhanced pay and benefits” for these workers.
The Liberals’ child care plan is estimated to allow roughly 130,000 Ontario parents to join the workforce full-time.
“As a result of the pandemic, women have been forced out of their jobs in record numbers,” Del
Duca said. “Our Ontario Liberal plan will help create an economic recovery that’s led by women, and especially mothers, to address the she-cession.”
The plan will also create 30,000 new jobs for child care centre staff and 15,000 construction jobs to help create new child care spaces over the next three years, the Liberals said.
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