Original Published on Aug 19, 2022 at 07:45
By Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
NORTH HURON – The Township of North Huron signed an agreement with the County of Huron to participate in the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) program, beginning the process to lower childcare costs in the area.
The much anticipated “$10 a day” childcare program will be implemented over three years, a report from Trisha McLean, manager of children’s services, and Director of Recreation and Community Services Vicky Luttenberger said.
The Ontario government announced on March 28 they had entered into an agreement with the Government of Canada for funding to provide universal childcare under the CWELCC program.
The report said staff has been attending webinars and meetings for the past three months to learn how the new program works.
“Staff have learned that the CWELCC system is much more than a subsidy program; it is a strategy to address a number of issues in the childcare services field, childcare costs, the need for additional childcare spaces, the low wages of childcare workers, and the workforce shortage,” states the report.
“Staff believe participation in the program will not only benefit the families that use the North Huron Child Care Centre but it will also provide additional funding needed to support the Centre.”
Several letters were sent to council by struggling parents and employees; some questioned the length of time it has taken from the government’s announcement to see anything being done by local council.
“After checking the news daily for weeks, there was finally an announcement stating relief for parents beginning in April.”
“The daycare sent out a letter about reducing costs and I felt that we could finally see the light. Since that letter I heard nothing and I was shocked to learn last month that the daycare had not submitted for funding yet because they were waiting for council to decide,” Kansis and Devin Jenkins said.
“I want to acknowledge the correspondence…relating to the childcare funding arrangements,” Deputy Reeve Trevor Seip said. “It seems like it’s been forever since the province made their announcement of this arrangement or agreement.
“When you talk about childcare funding, our childcare funding goes through not only the province but the federal government, then it goes to the county and then comes to us. There are a lot of hands in that pie that need to be dealt with and corresponded before we just go ahead and decide to make a decision.
“The one thing I do want to recognize is that nowhere has this council ever suggested that we would never accept a $10 a day childcare model. We’ve never said it. We’d actually be very happy to oblige. Because childcare is very expensive.”
Seip thanked the families and employees who reached out and acknowledged that childcare is a driving force for employment in the region.
He also told the correspondence writers that just because it isn’t in the news doesn’t mean they (council) are not working on it.
“No news isn’t bad news; it means that council is getting the right information from the staff to ensure that we are well informed so that we can make a decision that is in the best interest of the municipality as a whole,” said Seip.
“Once a childcare service provider opts in, participating licensed childcare providers will be required to implement a fee reduction of up to 25 per cent, retroactive to April 1, 2022,” the report to council said. “Families must receive their reimbursements within 60 days of CMSM (County of Huron) approval.
“Families can expect to receive a further fee reduction of 25 per cent by the end of December 2022. By December, these reductions will reduce average childcare fees in Ontario by 50 per cent.
“Ontario’s plan provides for another reduction in childcare fees in September 2024, and the last reduction will be implemented by September 2025 at which time the average fee for childcare will be $10 a day per child.”
The motion passed unanimously to sign the CWELCC agreement.
This item reprinted with permission from Advance Times, Wingham, Ontario.