THUNDER BAY — Ontario parents with children under the age of six in licensed child care will pay an average of 50 per cent less in fees — compared with 2020 fees — by the end of this month.
The provincial and federal governments made the announcement Monday.
It's good news for parents whose kids attend any of the licensed child care providers supported by the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board.
As of Nov. 1, all of these providers have opted in to the new Canada-wide early learning and child care system (CWELCC), which Ontario joined last March.
At that time, rates were frozen and a 25 per cent rebate (on average) was to be provided to families once their child care provider committed to CWELCC and signed a new service agreement.
In the second phase, fees for children under six were to be reduced again to achieve an average reduction of 50 per cent by Dec. 31.
Further reductions will be implemented by September 2024, resulting in a final reduction of fees to an average of $10 per day by September 2025.
According to the social services board, new purchase-of-service agreements have now been provided to 22 local providers who operate out of 49 child care centres in the city and district.
As of Oct. 31, refunds were being provided to parents for the period between April and August of this year, totalling $320,000.
The verification of other refund applications is currently being completed.
The social services board said that once funds are received by the service provider, it has 20 days to refund and/or credit families.
Ontario has also announced a $213 million grant program for the creation of new child care spaces.
Last March, it said it was targeting 71,000 new spaces.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Monday that the new one-time grants will help new and existing operators buy equipment or renovate facilities.
Priority will be given to areas where demand for child care spaces are highest.
In the Thunder Bay area, Our Kids Count is the coordinating agency for licensed home child care operators, of which there are currently four.
A report to the TBDSSAB board last month indicated that there is potential growth in the home care area, as 10 new contacts had been made over the previous month.
Our Kids Count was to host an open house for interested unlicensed providers to learn more about the benefits of entering the licensed system and being a part of CWELCC.