Thursday, December 01, 2022

‘New stage of talks:’ Ontario closes on $10/day childcare deal

Federal sources told CTV News Toronto that Ontario and the federal government have entered a “new phase of negotiations” that could see a $10-a-day childcare agreement within weeks.

After months of talks, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the provincial government had handed over all the necessary documents required by the federal government to indicate that Ontario intends to reduce fees and build new childcare locations with federal funds.

“They have all the details, all the plans requested by the federal government,” Lecce told reporters on Tuesday. “We look forward to getting this deal done as soon as possible to save families money.”

A spokeswoman for Karina Gould, the federal minister responsible for the child care file, said the Ontario government sent out the first draft of the province’s action plan late last week and the plan now allows both sides to begin discussing the specifics of the deal.

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“The submission of the first draft of the Action Plan has allowed negotiations to be taken to the next stage where officials can now work to ensure that the plan includes space creation, affordability, data and reporting, workforce support, inclusivity and quality.” but meets federal objectives within the parameters of the funding allocation for Ontario,” said a spokesperson for Gold.

Asked how soon a deal could be signed, a federal source said other provinces were able to reach an agreement about three weeks after the government received an action plan.

While Premier Doug Ford insisted again on Tuesday, that the province is “very close to getting a deal” federal officials insisted that time was running out.

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The federal government allocated $10.2 billion to help Ontario reduce the daily cost of childcare — more than a billion of which was intended for the 2021-22 fiscal year that ends March 31.

Federal officials warned that first-year funding could “lapse” if a deal is not struck before the end of the month. While funding will not be pulled in full, the federal government will have to begin a complex accounting process to reallocate funds for the 2022-23 fiscal year – making the Ontario deal unique compared to other provinces and territories.

Ford said the government was committed to reaching an agreement, but did not give a timeline.

“We’re going to make this deal, just stay tuned,” Ford told the Ontario legislature. “Hopefully it will happen as soon as possible.”

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