New national child care system

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On March 28, 2022, Ontario signed onto the new Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) Agreement initiated and funded by the Government of Canada.

CWELCC is a five-year plan to reduce the cost of child care to an average of $10 per day for eligible families.

Child care fee reduction is available for eligible families whose child care service providers have opted into the CWELCC System. Families are to contact their child care providers for fee reduction.

Fee reduction

Under the Canada Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system, rates have been reduced by 52.75% since 2022. The province has outlined their goal to reach an average fee of $10 a day by 2025/2026 for children participating in CWELCC-enrolled programs.


A child under the age of 6 who is enrolled in a CWELCC program is eligible for a child care rate reduction up to 52.75%. The amount a family will pay depends on the original rates of the child care provider and the location of the provider. Families do not need to apply to get a reduced rate. Families can contact their child care provider to ask about the reduced rates available at their site.

Important note: Not all licensed child care programs are participating in the CWELCC program. CWELCC rate reductions are only available for programs enrolled in CWELCC.

Looking for licensed child care?

 The Ottawa Child Care Registry and Waitlist is an online application tool for parents looking for licensed child care. Families can:

  • Choose:
    • home-based care
    • centre-based care
    • school age care
    • nursery/pre-school care
  • Apply for full fee (Registry) or fee subsidy (Waitlist) by completing just one application
  • Find the list of providers that are enrolled in the CWELCC System.

Need help with the cost of child care?

If you need extra support to pay for child care, you can apply to get help with your child care costs.

For families

The Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) System:

  • Gives families more affordable child care options
  • Helps lower child care fees for eligible families
  • Increases child care spaces
  • Supports early years workers

A child must meet the following criteria to be eligible for a CWELCC fee reduction:

Program: A child must be enrolled in a licensed child care program that is participating in the CWELCC system.

Age: Children below the age of six.

There are additional eligibility criteria for children who will soon turn six, or who have recently turned six:

  • A child will remain eligible for a CWELCC fee reduction until the last day of the month that they turn six, in any CWELCC child care program. For example, a child who is enrolled in a CWELCC participating program and who turns six on November 10 will be eligible for CWELCC fee reduction until the end of November. AND;
  • If a child turns six between January 1 and June 30 while registered with a CWELCC participating extended day program, pre-school, licensed family age group, kindergarten or home child care program, the child remains eligible for a CWELCC fee reduction until June 30 of that same year.

What this means for families:

Fee reduction is provided by child care providers that have opted into the CWELCC System. The amount that families will save depends on what they are currently paying and may vary from one provider to another. Please contact your child care service provider to confirm fee reduction in 2023.

Camps and authorized recreation programs are not eligible to participate in the CWELCC System.

For eligible full fee-paying families

Child care service providers that have opted into the CWELCC System are responsible for fee reductions. Please contact your child care service provider for fee reduction in 2023.

For eligible families receiving a child care fee-subsidy

  • 2023 fee reduction will be processed by the City of Ottawa.
  • Families do not need to apply to receive a reduction.

Provider has chosen not to participate

  • Provider will not receive CWELCC funding.
  • Provider will continue to set their own fees.
  • Families will not be eligible for any refund or reduction in fees.
  • Families who want a provider participating in CWELCC can login to the City of Ottawa Child Care Registry and Waitlist to find the list of providers that have opted-in the CWELCC System.

Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care directed growth strategy

As part of the on-going implementation of the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) program, the Ontario Ministry of Education (Province) will fund a limited number of new school-based and community based child care spaces for families in Ottawa between 2023 and 2026.

The City is responsible for planning, overseeing and managing licensed child care and early years programs and services in the City of Ottawa. This includes managing and directing CWELCC-funded growth at a local level.

The CWELCC-funded growth will be gradual until 2026 and based on Provincial priorities and funding.

Targeted growth 

In 2022, all local existing licensed child care service providers had the option to opt-in to the CWELCC system. As of November 1, 2022, 94% of licensed child care sites in Ottawa had chosen to opt -in, resulting in fee reduction for approximately 21,000 eligible children. Beginning in 2023, the Province shifted to a directed growth approach, where funding would be provided for a limited number of new CWELCC-funded spaces, with a priority to support communities and populations most in need. 

For Ottawa, the Province allocated 2,903 new CWELCC-funded spaces between 2022 and 2026, which include 713 spaces for new school-based locations and 2,190 spaces for community-based allocation. The school-based spaces will be in new school projects, as per the Ministry of Education direction. The City of Ottawa only has discretion over the allocation of community-based CWELCC-funded spaces, with service providers needing to be selected in line with the Province’s Access and Inclusion Framework.  

New CWELCC-funded child care expansion in Ottawa will focus on supporting:

  • Indigenous children
  • Francophone children
  • Children with special needs
  • Children from diverse communities including Black, racialized and newcomers
  • Low-income families

While the City recognizes that all areas of Ottawa have equity, diversity and inclusion needs, the new CWELCC-funded spaces will focus on areas and neighbourhoods that are both underserved and experiencing lower socio-economic status.  The local Ottawa directed growth strategy aims to ensure that a 40% child care access target (for children under 6 years of age) is reached in under-served neighbourhoods experiencing lower socio-economic conditions. Servicing priority areas and families is in alignment with the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework and the Child Care and Early Years Service System Plan (2019 to 2023).

The limited, new, CWELCC-funded spaces will be distributed to the following priority areas:

  1. Indigenous children: spaces will be created across the city in all seven service areas – West, South, Central West, Central, Central East, Central South, and East
  2. Francophone children: spaces will be created in the following service areas and neighbourhoods: 
    • West: Glencairn 
    • South: Chapman Mills/Rideau Crest 
    • Central West: Nepean East, Carlington, Bayshore/Crystal Bay, Bells Corners 
    • Central: Centretown, Carleton Heights  
  3. Children from the general population: spaces will be created in the following service areas and neighbourhoods 
    • South: Chapman Mills/Rideau Crest 
    • Central West: Bayshore/Crystal Bay 
    • Central East: Vanier, Cyrville  
    • Central South: Carlsbad Springs/Findlay Creek Blossom Park, Alta Vista, Hunt Club West, Hawthorne Meadows/Riverview East: Chatelaine/Convent Glen

Use this Look up tool to view a map of service areas and neighbourhoods in Ottawa and/or to enter a postal code to look up in which service area and neighbourhood an address is located.  

Read the June 29, 2023 Memo to Council for the specific number of community-based CWELCC-funded spaces allocated to each priority population and neighbourhood. 

New CWELCC-funded child care spaces

Child care service providers were invited to express their interest in CWELCC-funded growth through a Request for Expression of Interest (REOI) process, which closed June 16, 2023. Thank you to all those who applied.  

Children’s Services is currently in the process of carefully assessing all REOI submissions. Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their submissions by the fall 2023. 

The City reserves the right to re-issue a Request for Expression of Interest, or another process, should the Province allocate additional CWELCC-funded community-based spaces. 

For questions about the REOI process, please email

Important note: Previous enrollment in CWELCC, or applying for new CWELCC growth through the REOI application, does not guarantee a child care service provider will get new CWELCC-funded spaces. Child care service providers should not assume they will get more CWELCC-funded spaces and should not communicate to families/caregivers that they will be offering CWELCC reduced-fees at their location(s) until they get confirmation from the City. Licensed child care centres with existing CWELCC funding can grow to their licensed capacity at their current location(s).

Next steps

The City continues to work with the province to implement the CWELCC program and to support local child care service providers to offer high quality and affordable child care.