Andrea Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre, asked the following Question in the Ontario Legislature on January 28, 2009 concerning the McGuinty government’s over-reliance on federal funding while shirking its obligation to make promised provincial investments in licensed child care expansion
MPP Hamilton Centre
Excerpt from hansard
Official Record of the Ontario Legislature
Ms. Andrea Horwath: The question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. We are disappointed but not surprised that the federal budget contains no child care funding. New Democrats, in fact, warned the McGuinty government that it should not rely on federal money to prop up provincial child care programs but make good on its own pledge of three hundred million new dollars for creating more child care in this province.
With more families than ever waiting for affordable licensed child care, 13,000 in Toronto alone, why did the McGuinty government put its the child care eggs in the federal basket instead of ensuring adequate provincial investments in the first place?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: The child care system in this province is at a historic crossroads, frankly. We have appointed Dr. Charles Pascal to advise us on the best way to make sure our kids get the very best start in their education possible. We are committed to implementing full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds. It will have an enormous impact on our child care sector. We are confident that Dr. Pascal has consulted widely and broadly, and we very much look forward to the recommendations he is going to be bringing in.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bruce Crozier): Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: The minister’s right: It’s historic all right. A whole 12% of children in Ontario who should be in child care can access licensed child care in this province. If that’s a crossroads, congratulations to you.
The McGuinty government is in fact doing a great disservice to families by breaking its promise to invest in child care in this province. Had the promised provincial investment of $300 million occurred, the waiting list for child care would be shrinking at this point in time, not growing as it currently is. How is it that the province of Quebec, has an excellent, provincially funded program, and Ontario lags so far behind that child care wasn’t even a line item in the last budget?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: I’d like to correct the error in the member’s question. In fact, we committed another $25 million last year and another $50 million this year. That money is going, in large part, to subsidies so that more kids can access child care so their parents can go back to work.
The member opposite should embrace this turning point in early childhood education in this province because what we are doing is moving forward aggressively. In the province of Quebec, when they brought in the child care system they have now, which I must say is funded by Ontarians as much as anyone else, one of the first things that they did was bring in full-day learning for five-year-olds. We are bringing in full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds. We welcome the report from Dr. Pascal, and we’ll move to implement that as quickly as we can.