News / Ottawa

City’s after school programs no longer open to children under six

City manager Dan Chenier said getting the programs licensed would double their cost.

Children enrolled in the University of Toronto Co-op Day Care play outside on September 30, 2014.

Tara Walton/Toronto Star

Children enrolled in the University of Toronto Co-op Day Care play outside on September 30, 2014.

Parents who send children under the age of six to after or before school recreation programs run by the city will now need to find licensed daycare spots, after provincial government changes.

In 2015, the province tightened the rules around daycare, requiring licenses for care of children under six years old. That means children under six who currently attend the city’s before and after school recreation programs will no longer be allowed to attend.

“We thought we’d be able to work out an exemption with the province, but unfortunately we weren’t able arrive at that conclusion,” said Dan Chenier, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and cultural services.

“So we decided to stick to the market that we serve best,” he said.

Recreational programs will now only serve children between the ages of six and 12.

Chenier said pursuing licenses for the city’s 31 affected programs would almost double the cost of the programs, from around $1,900 for the school year to more than $3,300.

“There’s a different staffing requirement. We rely almost exclusively on part-time high school or university students,” he said. “We really are only offering three hours shifts at the best of times.”

The new rules also means children over six are eligible for a maximum of three consecutive hours of care per day – meaning parents who current send children to both before and after school programs will need to make different arrangements.

“For some parents that has major implications,” said Chenier.

Chenier said the city tried to get an exemption from the rules, but the province didn’t grant permission. The changes will be implemented in September.

He estimated around 114 children who participate in the program will be affected.

“Working with the child care services of the city, we’re identified that is already the capacity for 1000 licensed child care spots in the city,” he said.

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