How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff
In a recent interview with the Star, former Ontario child and family services minister Jim Baird offered a glimpse at how the for-profit sector became so deeply entrenched in Ontario child care.
“They had a few years after this debacle [with the province] in place to change the rules, to actually fix the problem,” Baird recalled telling a group of child care workers in 2013. “They were going to fix this.”
Instead, for-profit child care companies like the one Baird visited — a company called Minto Parent Care — have largely been allowed to continue operating as before.
At the time, advocates for child care workers were horrified by what Baird witnessed. They called the ministry’s inaction a “failure of leadership and policy.” But in a country where for-profit child care companies have become the norm, it’s a stunning reversal of policy. Now, the companies — and their employees — are fighting back.
A Star investigation has uncovered how the corporate culture of top for-profit child care providers in Ontario has become so entrenched that children are routinely separated from their parents and placed in care. It’s a situation that may have been in place before the implementation of a law that created the province’s new $10-a-day childcare benefit last year.
The Star has not identified the companies involved in the practice.
The practice is not new for most of the companies involved in the sector — for example, the company that operated the largest childcare centre in the city of Toronto for the past 19 years until it went out of business in 2014. But now the industry has been given the green light by the province to keep expanding, with new units springing up in virtually every corner of the province.
The for-profit sector now includes 11,