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Child-Care Wait List Fees Will Go 'Bye-Bye' In Ontario

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DAYCARE ONTARIO
"It's expensive enough to have child care, it shouldn't be outrageously expensive to be on a waiting list." | Colin McConnell via Getty Images
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TORONTO -- Proposed new regulations in Ontario would ban licensed child-care providers from making parents pay fees just to put their kids on a waiting list.

Education Minister Liz Sandals says parents tend to put their children on multiple wait lists, and are sometimes forced to pay fees for each one.

"It isn't going to make the wait list go away,'' she said. "But just the whole idea that you're going to go onto a whole bunch of different wait lists and have to pay for each one... that's just not fair to parents."

She says the regulations are worded to anticipate "wiggle room" that providers might look for, so they will also ban the charging of fees to come off of a wait list and charging a deposit to be guaranteed a spot.

The regulations will apply to licensed child-care centres and home-care agencies, but not unlicensed providers -- people who care for up to five children in their own home.

Sandals says wait list fees didn't seem to be a problem in the unlicensed sector.

The regulations have to be posted for comment for 45 days, then they will go through other steps, but Sandals says the intent is to have the new rules in place for Sept. 1.

New Democrat Peter Tabuns said he heard from parents paying anywhere from $20 to $100 per waiting list.

"When you think about it, if parents are putting their children on multiple lists, that starts to add up very fast and so not only were parents in a situation where they were finding it extremely difficult to get child care, they were putting down all this money with no guarantee that they were going to get a spot," Tabuns said.

"It's expensive enough to have child care, it shouldn't be outrageously expensive to be on a waiting list."

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