Province to cover daycare fee hikes due to wage bump

November 24, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

Parents with children in licensed child care will be shielded from fee increases when Ontario's minimum wage rises to $14 in January, the Star has learned.

In a letter to municipalities last week, education ministry officials confirmed $12.7 million in new funding will be available to help licensed child-care centres and home child-care agencies cover added costs related to the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

It means daycares won't have to pass on those costs to parents and risk further destabilizing cash-strapped programs.

The new workplace law, passed this week, will boost the minimum wage from $11.60 to $14 on Jan. 1, and to $15 the following year. It will also provide two paid, job-protected sick days for all workers and increase holiday entitlement, among other improvements.

"We know there are going to be increasing operating pressures on child-care operators," said Indira Naidoo-Harris, the minister responsible for child care who last summer vowed to transform the system by making it more affordable and accessible for parents.

"We recognize (new workplace legislation) could lead to increases in fees," she said in an interview. "We want to put in place some pieces that will support improving wages, affordability and address those potential fee increases."

The funding will help support workers in licensed child-care programs currently making less than $14 an hour, Naidoo-Harris said. It is in addition to the $2-per-hour wage-enhancement grant and home child-care grant and will be available to all licensed child-care operators and licensed home child-care agencies, she added.

"This fund is totally necessary," said Lyndsay Macdonald of the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario. "We don't want to see centres close and we don't want to see parent fees go even higher."

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