Ontario’s Labour Day Battle Over For-Profit Daycares

How intense pressure from for-profit daycares has transformed Ontario’s rollout of $10-a-day child care — and sparked a political standoff

It is the second week of Labour Day in Ontario. A huge crowd has gathered in front of Queen’s Park where the province’s Liberals and Conservatives are meeting in an unprecedented show of political discord over whether to take over the province’s child care system.

But on the front lawn of Toronto’s historic Ryerson University, a different kind of battle rages: a battle over whether for-profit companies should be allowed to operate in Ontario.

A massive gathering on the front lawn of Ryerson University, where activists are taking their fight against for-profit daycares to a city hall meeting

This year, Ontario is rolling out $10-a-day child care, a major policy shift from the former Conservative government, which had resisted such a radical idea. It’s a model that critics say, in some cases at least, is actually more expensive for parents. Meanwhile, critics are asking the province how many such private, for-profit daycares there actually are — a question that has not been answered yet.

It has been an intense week for child care advocates across the province. On Monday, the government held public consultations on the project, and on Tuesday, activists clashed violently over the plans in several cities, from Ottawa to Toronto to Windsor.

This week, Ontario Liberal Leader Doug Ford held back-to-back news conferences to address the controversy, and his party joined in an online petition to stop the program, which is now being discussed by city politicians in Windsor and Gatineau.

At a news conference Tuesday in Toronto, Liberal MPP Kelly Block criticized his predecessor Mike Colle for allowing for-profit operators into the province’s child care system, and said that “this situation is not about daycare, it’s about for-profit ownership of daycares.”

At a news conference Wednesday in Ottawa — where Conservative Minister of Children and Youth Services Lisa MacLeod met with protesters at city hall — Liberal MPP Todd Smith condemned the Conservative government’s position: “We all should be outraged that taxpayers

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