How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff between the province and the for-profit sector
Ontario’s Liberal government has vowed to roll out a new model of child care, at an estimated cost of about $4 billion. While the current for-profit program, called Assisted Family DayCares, costs more than twice that, advocates point out that it only provides about half the care that is required.
In other words, for-profit child care is much more expensive than government-funded child care, which is why the government is considering expanding that program. But the government has been stymied by the for-profit sector.
The for-profit sector is a powerful lobby group in Ontario, representing a disproportionate share of child care costs. And the for-profit sector’s political lobbyists are making their voices heard when it comes to debates on child care.
The for-profit lobby group that has driven child care decisions in Ontario isn’t just any member of the sector. It is the lobby group for the largest private daycare chain in Ontario, Centro (which was sold to Care Group in 2014 for $300 million in cash and stock.)
Centro’s lobby group has become the voice of the for-profit sector in Ontario. The lobby group is the one calling the shots in debates on child care. It is the one pushing for more government funding to expand the current Assisted Family DayCares program. It is the one campaigning in the legislature for legislation that would make the government’s current child care fund the largest source of government funding for child care.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford (right) with Centro CEO Daniel Tobiason. Tobiason has become the face of the for-profit sector’s lobbying power in Ontario. (Photo: John Slee)
And in the 2018 election, Ford won a significant majority by promising to abolish the current Assisted Family DayCares program and replace it with a new, larger child care program.
“The daycare system is unsustainable