Ontario could lose child-care spaces, advocates say

Listen to the full CBC Ottawa Morning Interview here

In a recent interview on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning, Child Care Now Executive Director Morna Ballantyne said the Ontario government’s failure to fund licensed child care providers sufficiently is threatening the availability of child care programs at a time when parents are desperately seeking child care spaces in their communities.

The Ford government  announced last November it is increasing operational funding by just a bit more than 2%. Ballantyne said a much larger increase is needed to address the impact of inflation, and to provide high quality services. She noted that inadequate levels of public funding for early learning and child care is a problem across the country.

Morna Ballantyne, executive director of Child Care Now, a group that advocates for publicly funded child care, said the province could see fewer spots open if more money doesn’t flow to operators struggling with higher costs.

The Greater Toronto YMCA, which is one of Ontario’s largest providers of child care services, raised the alarm about the funding crunch in a pre-budget submission to the Ontario legislature. Jameson Stevie, the Chief Strategy Officer for the organization, told the media that to avoid deficits, operators have no choice but to close programs. 

“Unfortunately I do think we are going to see the loss of child care spaces at a time when we desperately need expansion,” Ballantyne said.

A spokesperson for Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce told CBC that the Government of Ontario will be looking to the federal government for more money. But Ballantyne pointed out that the federal government’s funding transfers have almost doubled since 2021-22. 

Ballantyne said that provincial governments must be held accountable for the federal money they are receiving to build a high quality and universally accessible child care system, and that together both levels of government must ensure sufficient levels of public funding are budgeted because raising parent fees to make up the difference is not an option.

Ballantyne also said governments said that more funding is required not only to make it possible for existing child care providers to operate at full capacity but also to create more child care spaces for the many parents on waiting lists. 

“I think all parents who are waiting for a spot really need to speak out. We need a lot more pressure on both levels of government to accelerate the expansion and to stop any closures of programs.”

Read the CBC’s full article here