Ontario Parents Are Facing Fewer Child Care Options This Year

Make sure you have yours sorted out.

With new regulations coming into play for Ontario child care providers as of Sept. 1, 2017, many parents are discovering that not every child care centre is equipped to deal with them.

While new rules have been rolling out since 2015, when the Child Care and Early Years Act began replacing the Day Nurseries Act, September marks the last round, which affects things like after-school (or recreational) programs, as well as children with medical conditions.

The legislation, which focuses in large part on regulations for unlicensed child care centres, can affect programs children were already attending, depending on how they're set up.

"We're going to have to shift our work and find a private nanny," one parent told the network. "We're hoping it will all work out."

The new rules state that recreational, or after-school programs, cannot be carried out for longer than three hours, unless they fit certain criteria, such as being operated by a school board or the YMCA. While this won't necessarily affect children who go right from school, others who use such programs as a half-day option won't be able to do so unless it's licensed properly.

For children with medical needs, an individualized plan must be developed with the child's parents and appropriate health professionals, including the specific actions that need to happen if an emergency occurs and a detailed description of the support available at the centre.

The Liberals plan to put $7 billion towards child care over the next decade, creating up to 40,000 subsidized daycare spots.

This is all happening as Prime Minister Trudeau is touring the Maritime provinces, discussing the funds the government will be putting towards child care. As announced in March, the Liberals plan to put $7 billion towards child care over the next decade, creating up to 40,000 subsidized daycare spots.

Ontario, specifically, has pledged $1.6 billion over the next five years, with the goal of giving 100,000 more children aged zero to four access to licensed child care options.

According to a 2016 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, daycare fees vary widely across the country, but Ontario has the highest by far. For infants (under 18 months) in the province, the average cost is $1235 per month, while for toddlers (18 months to age three), it's $1099 a month, and for preschool it's $974 a month.

A recent study found that three-quarters of families in Toronto can't afford licensed child care, reported the Toronto Star earlier this year.

For parents who need information about where to find child care near them, the Ministry of Education has a comprehensive website with search functions — and assumedly, child care options that fit all of their regulations.

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