Liberal Budget Means No Improvement to Access, Affordability or Staff Wages

March 25, 2008 - Toronto

Twenty-five million dollars will not ease the crisis of access to affordable child care for parents across the province. In 2003, Dalton McGuinty promised to fund early learning and child care with $300 million in provincial dollars. Since then, despite an escalating crisis in the child care system and repeated calls for that promise to be kept, the provincial government has failed to meet its own commitments.
"If the province is committed to improving quality, affordability and accessibility it must take action now to fully address the funding shortfalls that have plagued child care for more than a decade", said Andrea Calver. "In an underfunded system, 25 million dollars will have little impact for municipalities who are already paying more than their fair share. The funding will not result in significant changes for greater access or greater affordability for parents", added Calver.
In it's pre-budget submission the OCBCC called for a universal wage enhancement grant to lift the wages and standards for early childhood educators and other child care staff.
In addition, the Coalition has been an active participant in the Equal Pay Coalition and we are very disappointed the Liberal government has made no movement on the issue of pay equity. After a court challenge, the Harris / Eves government funded pay equity only to see the Liberal government cease funding when the court settlement was over. This year, the Liberal Government will owe 78 million dollars to women in the "proxy" sector. Ensuring low-wage workers have pay equity should be a part of the poverty-reduction agenda.
"One of the Liberal Governments' initiatives over the past year is to increase funding for staff to gain qualifications as Early Childhood Educators. The Government recognizes the benefits of a well-trained professional staff. But without adequate wages, we lose qualified staff to other professions. The Government missed an opportunity to lift the standards through a universal wage enhancement grant and resuming pay equity payments. Having qualified, professional staff is a key indicator of the quality for early learning and care, and we have a long way to go" said Shellie Bird, President of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.
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The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) represents the voices of over 500 members including child care centres and individuals advocating for universally accessible, high quality, non-profit child care in Ontario.