The Ontario government is protecting childcare spaces for parents, as they return to work. Education Minister Stephen Lecce unveiled a multi-step plan that would see parents retain access to local childcare spaces and Early Ontario Child and Family Centres.
“Our plan is focused on two objectives. The first was focused on saving parents money by prohibiting child care providers from charging families during the closure period. The second objective was focused on protecting child care spaces across our province, so families can re-enter the workforce with confidence that local centres will be accessible and safe,” Lecce said. The plan includes the following seven measures:
- support for fixed operating costs for eligible child care and EarlyON Centres, while providers are prohibited from charging parent fees while the Emergency Order is in effect;
- direct and rapid funding delivery through municipal service managers for centres that currently receive funding;
- a straightforward application process for child care centres that do not currently receive provincial funding by allowing them to apply directly to the Ministry of Education;
- direction that all child care centres will be required to maximize all available support under Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, including staffing costs retroactively to March 15, 2020, in addition to federal-provincial rental subsidy supports;
- red tape reduction and cost savings by waiving all child care licensing applications, renewals and revision fees;
- automatic extension of child care licenses set to expire during the emergency period; and
- protecting existing base funding for licensed home child care agencies, and regular funding and wage enhancement grant funding for licensed home child care providers who have remained active during the emergency closure.
The new measures will be in place for duration of the COVID19 outbreak. A previous emergency order instructed childcare providers to stop charging parents’ fees while daycare centres are closed.