Some Toronto-area parents, whose child care costs are already the highest in the country, say their fees have jumped by as much as 24 per cent this month in the wake of Ontario’s new $14 minimum wage.And this is despite a $12.7-million provincial fund, announced in November, to help daycares weather the wage increase and shield parents from fee hikes.
In Barrie, Taryn Aitken has been hit with a $368 increase this month for her two youngest children, ages 1 and 3, who attend a privately run centre near her home.
The 18-per-cent fee hike means she and her husband, both public servants who work in Toronto, are forking out an average of more than $2,426 a month for daycare.
She said, “Child care is a luxury for the upper class who can afford it.Lower income families are subsidized, but where are we left in all of this?”
Scott and Christina Davis, whose 3-year-old son, Sam, attends a private daycare in Brampton, say when they contacted the centre hoping to get their 6-per-cent fee increase reversed, they were rebuffed.
The daycare said it had no information about the new provincial funding and that if a “reassessment of fees” was necessary, parents would be notified. In the meantime, First Friends Preschool and Daycare told the couple the centre is increasing fees to reflect a variety of rising costs, including rent, food, gas and hydro.
The provincial fee stabilization fund, an interim measure to address potential fee increases arising from the $14 minimum wage, is being administered by municipalities, said a spokesperson for Indira Naidoo-Harris, provincial minister responsible for early learning and child care.
To receive the funding, daycares must show how they would use the money to mitigate fee increases, according to ministry guidelines.
Almost half of the fund has been earmarked for GTA daycares with Toronto receiving almost $2.8 million; Peel just over $1.2 million; Durham almost $659,000; Halton about $765,000; and York almost $1.4 million.