Fred Hahn, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario, wrote an open letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty to express concerns regarding the impact the implementation of the new Early Learning Program will have on the existing child care sector.While CUPE supports the overall vision of the ELP, Hahn stresses that a clearer implementation timeline is needed now to allow Ontario’s young families, the child care community, school boards, and workers in the child care and school board sectors to make plans for the future.
Families need this information to make informed decisions about their children’s development and care. Workers need this information to make career decisions and alleviate the high level of anxiety in the field. Administrators need this information to best be able to plan to meet the demands these changes will be placing on their organizations.
The key concerns expressed are:
- lack of transparency regarding funding - whether grant money and subsidies will remain in child care to aid the sustainability of existing programs or go towards the ELP.
- transition funds are not adequate even just to maintain current levels of community and municipal programs, let alone "assist programs to adjust to the loss of the 4- and 5-year-old programs, assist with retrofitting program space for younger age programming, and prevent the need to introduce higher parent fees".
- School Boards have indicated that there is not sufficient funding to run the ELP.
- Lack of implementation of extended day and extended year programming which make up an integral part of the complete vision.
"...It appears that the Pascal blueprint is being cherry-picked from and under-resourced. This is not only disadvantaging municipal and community-based child care which should be enhanced by Pascal’s vision, it is putting the entire ELP program in jeopardy by not funding it to succeed."
Reaffirming CUPE's intent to support the complete implementation of Charles Pascal's vision, Hahn urges the Premier and Ministry of Education to ensure that the implementation of the ELP follows this vision and includes extended day and extended year planning. Furthermore, he states the significance of supporting the child care sector through this transition to allow guarantee a healthy and sustainable system. Hahn argues that this is what Ontario families need and that it meets the needs of our economy as well as our poverty prevention plan.
Finally, Hahn warns that failure act in a clear, focused, and decisive way could result in the failure of the program.
To read the complete letter, please click here.