Ontario bans daycare wait-list fees
Following a campaign spearheaded by GP’s Nadine Blum and Kelly Doctor, the government of Ontario has amended the regulation under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 to ban daycare centres from charging wait-list fees, as of September 1st.
In addition, daycare centres have until January to develop wait-list policies, so that parents will know how a daycare centre determines the order in which children on the list are offered admission.
Watch: Kelly and Nadine appear in this Global News story about the amendments:
[The amendments mean] parents will be able to find out where their child’s name stands on the list and the criteria for being offered a spot — a sore point for many parents who feel some daycares are playing favourites.
“You hear stories about people baking cookies, jumping the queue, using their connections,” said Nadine Blum, a Toronto lawyer who, with colleague Kelly Doctor, launched a petition last spring to push the government to ban the wait-list fees.
Blum got fed up after one daycare asked for a $150 fee to put her son, now 2, on the list, when she’d already laid out a few hundred dollars at other centres and was on as many as 20 or 30 lists.
The petition helped prompt Premier Kathleen Wynne to promise an end to the controversial charges, while New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) proposed a ban in a private member’s bill.
With competition for spaces tight, particularly in Toronto where there are spots for just 21 per cent of children under age 5, activists echoed the call for more daycare funding, which now costs provincial taxpayers more than $1 billion annually for about 350,000 licensed spaces.
The shortage has allowed daycare centres to get away with charging what the market will bear for waiting lists, said Doctor, who works with Blum at the labour law firm Goldblatt Partners LLP.
“There’s a lot of bigger issues to be addressed,” added Doctor, who described wait-list fees as “barriers” to low-income families seeking child care and to new moms seeking to find jobs or resume their careers after maternity leave.