The province’s new $10-a-day child-care benefit could determine how much parents spend on child care

How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff.

Every day, a different family enters a new kind of daycare. Some are here to keep an aging parent company afloat; others are homeless children who’ve been abused, neglected or abandoned.

But at the end of the day, no matter the circumstance, some families are spending their whole child-care days in this classroom.

That’s one result of the province’s new $10-a-day child-care benefit provided for the first time in Ontario during this fall’s federal election campaign.

The province introduced the legislation, which will increase the total cost of child care by 12.6 per cent in Ontario, to $13.66 per day for children up to the age of five, or the equivalent of a child receiving the free child-care benefit of $8.93.

But, amid mounting criticism from parents — and a promise from the Premier that this new benefit won’t be retroactively applied to existing parents — the Progressive Conservative government is now asking the government for a delay — pending a review of how the program has been implemented thus far. And that review could determine, for the first time in Ontario’s modern history, how much parents actually spend on child care.

The situation was further complicated when, earlier this month, Kathleen Wynne’s chief of staff, Jennifer Kelliher, revealed at Queen’s Park that the government is considering an outright ban on the for-profit daycares to which parents pay more than $10 a day.

While that would mean for-profit child-care providers would effectively no longer be able to operate in Ontario, parents who chose not to go through a daycare operator still would be able to keep the full cost of child care covered.

The decision is now being hotly debated by parents and their representatives in the provincial government and is facing widespread scrutiny by the media.

The Ontario Child-Care Quality and Safety Commission recently published a report criticizing the government for failing to collect enough information to ensure parents are actually using their daycares and, to some extent, even forcing children into them

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