By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Plans to make licensed child care free for toddlers will put money back in the pockets of families, according to members of the Ontario Liberal Party.
Micheal Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services, and Durham MPP Granville Anderson visited Seneca Trail Public School in the Oshawa’s north end recently to expand on the promise.
Beginning in 2020, childcare for children two-and-half years old through kindergarten age will become free, a move pegged with a price tag of $930 million.
The Liberals have pledged to invest a total of $2.2 million in childcare over a three-year period.
Approximately $162.5 million will go towards increasing access, fee reductions and reducing waiting lists for subsidized child care spots.
Over the next year, the province will spend $53 million to create 4,200 subsidized childcare spaces and $26 million in funding for home childcare.
According to the province’s 2017 Early Years and Child Care Report, there were 406,395 childcare spaces in Ontario as of March 2017.
This marks an increase of 35 per cent from 2010-2011 when there was approximately 261,000 spaces.
Seneca Trail Public School, located near Conlin Road and Grandview Street North, will receive an additional 49 more childcare spaces at a cost of $750,000 under the plan.
Speaking to staff and students Coteau says the average cost of childcare in Ontario is $17,000 per child.
“$17,000 is a lot of money. We know that it is really difficult for families these days to afford these services [and] we know at least a quarter of people in Ontario are struggling to get that service,” Coteau says.
The costs associated with childcare are keeping parents from returning to work, he adds.
“We want to make sure that men and women, but mostly women because they are staying home more with their children, have the ability to get back into the workforce as soon as possible so they can continue to build the economy,” he adds.
Coteau says parents staying home due to childcare costs pulls approximately $60 billion out of the province’s economy a year.
The Liberals announced the plan as part of their platform for the upcoming provincial election, influenced by a report written by economist Dr. Gordon Cleveland, along with consultation from parents, education and childcare professionals.