Ontario to be short 220,000 child-care spaces due to $10-a-day demand: FAO

TORONTO — Ontario's financial watchdog estimates in a report on the education sector that the province will be short more than 220,000 child-care spaces to meet an anticipated surge in demand due to reduced fees.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce recently announced that 92 per cent of licensed child-care operators in Ontario have opted in to the national program that will see fees lowered to an average of $10 a day by 2026.

Part of the agreement saw Ontario commit to 86,000 new child-care spaces by the end of that year, and the government says 33,000 have already been created.

But even if that target is met, Ontario's Financial Accountability Office says "significant excess demand" for the $10-a-day program will exceed the number of available spaces by 227,146.

The FAO says its estimate is based on pre-pandemic Statistics Canada data on how many families were not accessing child care because it was too expensive or they couldn't find a space, as well as looking at how many kids are still cared for at home in Quebec where fees are subsidized.

A spokesperson for Lecce says Ontario will implement a growth plan to ensure new spaces go to high-need areas, but the province is still awaiting details from the federal government on additional funds promised for space creation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 15, 2022.

The Canadian Press