Day care spaces in Ontario will be protected, despite the end of a federal subsidy, thanks to $63.5 million of budget spending, the provincial government said Thursday.

Even though the governing Liberals had warned they couldn’t fill every funding hole left when a federal program ends, they came up with the money needed to maintain 8,500 child-care spaces.

Critics had warned valuable spots would be lost without new funds. That would force more parents to pay full fees for day care, which can amount to $1,200 or $1,400 a month.

They also worried that the problem would only be aggravated when Ontario moves ahead with its plan to bring in full-day kindergarten for four- and five-year-old children.

Federal funding under the Early Learning and Child Care Agreement ended in 2006-07 with a final bulk payment of $253 million to the province.