Ontario weakened its $10-a-day child care funding rules. Now the federal government is demanding answers from municipalities about how they are following the rules, and what will become of the funding.
A look at what’s happening and how municipalities are dealing with the fallout.
What is happening
First, it’s worthwhile to look at just what is happening. As of March, municipalities have yet to begin receiving funding — they have been asking Ottawa for it for months.
That’s because the Ontario government’s Child Care Act only covers new entrants into the child care system, for which municipalities are entitled to receive funding starting April 1, 2019. The government has promised to pay all existing municipalities starting on or about January 1 next year, the beginning of 2019.
To get the cash, municipalities need to meet two conditions. First, they need to meet their 2019 obligations, based on data provided to the government. Second, they need to show that the program is cost-effective.
It’s a lot to ask, because the first requirement is tough to meet — it’s going to involve a lot of work on the books. They’ll have to report to the province on what’s going on and what funding their municipalities are receiving.
But the second requirement is a lot easier to meet, and the more important measure of all. It just means that the program is actually working.
A ‘very large’ bill
The province, meanwhile, has been trying to manage the fallout.
This summer, the province announced it was giving municipalities $25 million to help them with the reporting and compliance requirements of the program. It also said that municipalities would see a lump sum of about $800 million from the province’s share of the funding, which is based on the volume of children and young people in their jurisdictions and a formula for calculating the amounts.
The province also said it would waive a $5-million civil penalty imposed on one of its own municipalities who didn’t report the necessary data to the government, though it was not made explicit whether this is part of a settlement.
However, some municipalities say that they have not received the data and are being told it’s because they haven’t met the criteria for receiving the money.
Some say they are being told the