Matt Stella | CUPE Communications

Ontario child care advocates and CUPE child care workers are bracing for impact after the Ford government decided to scrap a key protection against the corporate takeover of Ontario’s child care sector.

In August, the government quietly announced that it will remove the “For-Profit Maximum Percentage Threshold” from Ontario’s child care funding guidelines. This means that more public funds will go directly to large for-profit or “big-box” child care corporations.

This policy change threatens all child care workers in Ontario, including thousands of CUPE members who work in the sector. We will see downward pressure on wages and more precarious work, and working families made more vulnerable to the profit motive of big-box child care chains.

CUPE’s coalition partner, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), was quick to respond to the new policy. The OCBCC cited Australia’s experience in using public dollars to fund for for-profit child care spaces.

“What began as well-intentioned policy went deeply wrong—resulting in the near-collapse of Australia’s child care sector, angry parents, legal actions and a government bail-out costing taxpayers tens of millions of tax dollars,” Carolyn Ferns, the coalition’s Public Policy and Government Relations Coordinator, wrote in an open letter to Ontario’s Ministry of Education. “Ontario must be sure not to follow the same path, which is well-documented.”

The OCBCC is urging the government to rethink the policy change and to initiate consultations with the child care community.

Premier Doug Ford has wasted little time in putting forward an agenda that attacks working people and weakens the public services that Ontarians rely on. But public criticism of Ford’s neoliberal agenda is growing, with an increasing number of protests and coordinated political action taking place across the province.

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