Canada-Ontario early years and child care agreement
Learn how we’re providing more accessible child care options and lower fees. This includes reducing fees to an average of $10 per day for children under the age of six in licensed child care by September 2025.
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The Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system will:
- give families access to more affordable and high-quality child care options
- help lower child care fees for parents of children under the age of six
- increase child care spaces
- support the child care workforce
- support inclusive child care
Licensed child care providers can participate in the CWELCC system to help reduce fees. Licensed child care providers must tell parents whether the program is enrolled in the CWELCC system through their parent handbook.
If your licensed child care provider is not enrolled, your fees will not be reduced.
As a parent or guardian of a child under the age of six, you do not need to apply to get a fee reduction.
Accomplishments to date
Ontario's action plan
The agreement focuses on five key pillars:
- lowering fees
- increasing access
- enhancing high-quality child care
- supporting inclusion
- enhancing data and reporting
To ensure child care is more affordable for families, we are lowering average fees for participating licensed child care programs through a phased approach:
- Reduced child care fees by an average of 25% for children under the age of six, retroactive to April 1, 2022.
- Effective December 31, 2022, further reduced child care fees by 37% bringing the provincial average fee to $23 per day (50% of 2020 fees).
- By September 2025, lower licensed child care fees to an average of $10 per day.
To provide families with more child care options and address increasing demand for child care, we are:
- creating approximately 86,000 new licensed child care spaces by the end of 2026
- supporting expansion of new child care spaces in geographic areas and diverse communities where they are needed most (for example, children with special needs, Indigenous and Francophone communities)
To ensure families have access to high-quality licensed child care, we are:
- improving compensation for low wage Registered Early Childhood Educators working with children up to age 12 in licensed child care
- developing a workforce strategy to support the child care workforce and improve recruitment and retention of individuals working in licensed child care
To support the needs of diverse communities and populations, we have engaged with a broad range of partners to:
- ensure space expansion plans and programming support the needs of vulnerable and diverse populations in your communities (such as, Indigenous, Francophone, Black and other racialized groups, newcomers, low-income families and children with special needs)
- gather data and assess the barriers to access for children of diverse populations and children with varying abilities
Enhanced data and reporting
To monitor our progress and support families, we will:
- use evidence-based data to evaluate and improve how the child care system supports children and families
- report regularly on our progress toward meeting federal requirements using enhanced data collection and analytics capabilities
What this means for parents and families
Parents or guardians of children under the age of six do not have to apply to receive a child care fee reduction.
You may be eligible for reduced fees if:
- you pay more than $12 per day for child care and your child:
- is under the age of six
- turns six years old and is enrolled in a licensed preschool, kindergarten or family age group or a licensed home child care premises, until June 30
- your licensed child care provider enrols in the CWELCC system
The amount that you will save depends on the current fees your child care provider charges and may vary by region.
In March 2022, Agnes paid $62/day in child care fees for her 18 month-old daughter Vanessa. Her child care centre enrolled in the CWELCC system in 2022, so she received an initial 25% reduction as of April 1, 2022 and a further reduction of 37% effective December 31, 2022. Parent fees for Vanessa were reduced to $29.30/day effective December 31, 2022.
In 2022, Agnes saved $3,023. For 2023, Agnes will have annual savings of $8,503 on child care fees.
Fiona paid $62/day in child care fees for her 5 year-old daughter Qin during 2022. The child care centre her daughter attends had not enrolled in CWELCC. If her child care centre enrols in CWELCC effective December 31, 2022, parent fees for Qin will be reduced by 52.75% to $29.30/day effective December 31, 2022.
For 2023, Fiona will have annual savings of $8,503 on child care fees.
Jonathan’s 5 year-old daughter Danielle attends a child care centre that opted out of CWELCC in 2022 and child care fees increased from $62/day (in March 2022) to $70/day. On February 1, 2023, the child care centre enrolls in CWELCC. Jonathan will see a reduction of 52.75% from the child care fee of $62/day, effective February 1, 2023 (date of enrolment in 2023). Same as Agnes and Fiona, parent fees for Jonathan will be reduced to $29.30/day.
For 2023, Jonathan will have annual savings of $9,701 on child care fees (inclusive of $1,907 savings from the increased child care fee).
Child care subsidy
The Ontario child care fee subsidy program will continue to be available for families who are eligible to apply for financial support to help you pay for licensed child care.
The fee subsidy will continue to be determined through the income test that is administered by your local service system managers. The amount you will pay depends on your family's income and will be reduced by 50% for eligible children, effective December 31, 2022. To get more information or apply for the child care subsidy, please contact your local service system manager.
Child care tax credit
The Ontario Child Care Tax Credit program will continue to be in effect for eligible families.
What this means for child care providers
Every licensed child care provider, whether they are providing centre-based or home-based child care, serving children under the age of six (or turning six before June 30) is eligible to apply for enrolment in the CWELCC system.
Who is not eligible
Unlicensed programs are not eligible to participate in the CWELCC system. This includes:
- unlicensed home child care providers
- authorized recreation programs
- school board-operated extended day programs
Unlicensed providers who wish to participate should consider applying for a licence. Learn how to apply for a child care licence.
Applicants and licensees should contact their local service system manager for more information on how to apply.
Beginning January 1, 2023, enrolment shifted to targeted growth, which focuses on creating affordable child care spaces in communities with populations who need them most. Licensees interested in participating in the CWELCC system must demonstrate that their program aligns with local space expansion plans (e.g., is in a priority neighbourhood).
To support this new approach, applicants must provide the ministry with one of the following before their licence application will be processed:
- written advice from their local service system manager regarding whether the proposed program will be eligible for CWELCC funding
- written confirmation that the applicant has told their local service system manager they will not be applying for the CWELCC system
The ministry may also request the above documentation from licensees who request changes to their existing licensed capacity.
Licensees who opted out of the CWELCC system in 2022 and now wish to apply for enrolment in 2023 may contact their local service system manager to determine whether their program aligns with local space expansion plans.
If you participate in CWELCC
Licensed child care programs that participate in the CWELCC system will enter into a service agreement with their service system manager. This agreement outlines the amount of funding your program will receive and guidelines you must follow.
Some of the requirements that programs will need to meet include:
- demonstrating that you are financially viable
- setting base fees in accordance with the regulation and agreement with the local service system manager
- following the rules set out in the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 and its regulations
- maintaining existing capacity for eligible children for which they are receiving fee reduction funding
- providing information to support data collection and reporting
If you don't participate in CWELCC
Licensed child care programs that do not participate in the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system must continue to follow the rules and requirements for operating a licensed child care program. They will not receive funding to reduce child care fees or to increase compensation for low-wage Registered Early Childhood Educators.
- footnote Back to paragraph Savings calculations assume 195 childcare days in 2022 and 260 childcare days in 2023.