Overview

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

Licensed child care providers can choose to participate in the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System to help reduce fees. Licensed child providers who choose to participate must inform parents.

If your licensed child care provider does not participate, 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.

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

Lowering fees

To ensure child care is more affordable for families, we will lower average fees for participating licensed child care programs through a phased approach:

  1. Reduce child care fees by an average of 25% for children under the age of six, retroactive to April 1, 2022.
  2. By the end of December 2022, further reduce child care fees by 50% on average.
  3. By September 2025, lower licensed child care fees to an average of $10 per day.

Increasing access

To provide families with more child care options and address increasing demand for child care, we will:

  • create approximately 86,000 new licensed child care spaces by the end of 2026 (this includes 15,000 licensed child care spaces created since 2019)
  • support 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)

Enhancing quality

To ensure families have access to high-quality licensed child care, we will:

  • improve compensation for low wage Registered Early Childhood Educators working with children up to age 12 in licensed child care
  • consult on measures to support the child care workforce and improve recruitment and retention of child care workforce, including professional development training opportunities

Supporting inclusion

To support the needs of diverse communities and populations, we will engage 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

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 chooses to enroll in the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System

The amount that you will save depends on the current fees your child care provider charges and may vary by region.

It may require some time for your child care program to enrol in the new system. The fee reduction will be retroactive to April 1, 2022. This means that you will be eligible to receive a refund for the higher fees you have paid once your program is fully enrolled.

Examples

Meet Yasmin

Yasmin lives in York Region and has two children. She currently pays $72 per day in child care fees for her 18 month-old son Jacob and $31 per day for her five year-old daughter Isobel.

If her child care centre enrols in the program by December 31, her fees for Jacob will be reduced by 25% to $54 per day and to $23.25 per day for Isobel.

For 2022, she will get a refund of $3,528 in fees for Jacob and $1,519 for Isobel, retroactive to April 1, 2022.

Meet Andrew

Andrew lives in Sudbury and currently pays $31 per day in child care fees for his 18 month-old daughter Renée and $11 per day for his five year-old son Germain.

If his child care centre enrols in the program by December 31, his fees for Renée will be reduced by 25% to $23.25. His fees for Germain will remain the same.

For 2022, he will get a refund of $1,519 in fees for Renée, retroactive to April 1, 2022.

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 25% for eligible children. 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.

Find out if you are eligible to receive tax credit to help with child care costs .

What this means for child care providers

Licensed child care providers, including for profit licensees, are eligible to participate in the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System.

Who is not eligible

Unlicensed programs are not eligible to participate in the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care 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.

Apply

Apply with your local service system manager by September 1, 2022 to enrol this year.

You will be required to provide information about your program such as your:

  • current fees
  • expenses
  • planned operating budget for the next year

Your service system manager will use this information to help determine how much funding you will receive to allow you to reduce fees for parents.

Contact your local service system manager for more information and to apply.

After you apply

After the application process is complete, you will enter into an amended or new purchase of service agreement with your 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 rules and its regulations to maintain licence
  • maintaining existing capacity for eligible child care for which they are receiving fee reduction funding
  • providing information support data collection and reporting

If you don’t participate

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 child care program. They will not receive funding to reduce child care fees or to increase compensation for low wage RECEs earners.

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