Ontario has until Thursday to strike a $10-a-day childcare agreement with the federal government or risks losing about $1 billion in federal funding.

Ontario and the federal government say a finalized childcare deal would work to reduce the average cost of childcare in Ontario by 50 per cent by the end of 2022, before lowering prices to $10-a-day by 2026.

The Liberal government campaigned on a national $10-a-day childcare plan within five years, and set aside $30 billion in last year’s budget to do so.

A good chunk of that funding, about $1 billion from Ottawa, could lapse if a deal isn’t struck between Ontario and the federal government by March 31, which marks the end of this fiscal year.

While speaking at a healthcare announcement in Ottawa on March 25, Ontario Premier Doug Ford stuck to his guns and continued to say the government is ‘close’ to a deal with Ottawa – the same answer he gave to families in January and February.

“We’ve been working very closely with the federal government. We said we wouldn’t sign a deal that doesn’t work for the people of Ontario. And that’s where we’re at. We work very collaboratively with the federal government on so many different issues, and we’ll get the deal done,” said Ford.

Ford has previously said the province has a plan to create an additional 338,000 childcare spaces across the province, but the details of that plan haven’t been shared, at least publicly, as of yet.

Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce has been asking the federal government for over $10 billion to help offset Ontario’s current childcare costs – which are listed at some of the highest rates across the country.

Yet, Ontario maintains that the federal government’s offer of $10.2 billion wasn’t enough to run the program, and are asking for a longer funding commitment from the feds.

The NDP’s Childcare critic, Bhutila Karpoche, says it’s ‘wrong’ for the Ford government to leave signing the deal until the eleventh hour, leaving Ontario families to keep shelling out thousands of dollars per month while they wait.

“Every other province and territory in Canada has signed a $10-per-day child care deal based on the number of children under 12 in their jurisdiction,” Karpoche said. “Why has Ford held out for months? Every month, parents are watching their bank accounts drain while Ford has dragged his feet.”

Ontario became the final province in Canada without a federal childcare deal in January, once Nunavut signed their $66 million five-year deal, which will reduce fees to $10-a-day per child by March 2024, and will increase the number of available spaces in daycare programs.