NDP education critic asks Minister Broten about child care crisis

Legislative Assembly of Ontario

On Wednesday November 23rd, the first day of question period after the house returned since the provincial election, Tabuns asked a question to the minister of education regarding the child care crisis.

Below is the transcript from the interchange between MPP Tabuns and minister of education Laurel Broten:

Mr. Peter Tabuns: ...I do have a question for the Minister of Education. Hundreds of child care centres across Ontario are at risk of closing unless the government takes action. Ontario families need affordable and dependable child care so they can go to work each day. When will the government address the current child care crisis and ensure that families don’t lose the child care that they need?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: Thank you very much, Speaker. I’m very pleased to be responsible, yet again, for something as important as child care. Let me assure the member that we understand and have invested significantly in ensuring Ontario’s youngest people get what they need.

Full-day kindergarten is the most significant transformation in our education system in a generation. We know that FDK is best for our kids and for our families, and as we invest in that historic transformation and move our all-day kindergarten students from the child care sector into kindergarten, we understand and know that we need to have transformation in the rest of the system. I have said on many occasions that I am very engaged in the conversation about what modern child care looks like in the face of all-day kindergarten. I know and understand that we have made significant investments in child care.

Just in the city of Toronto, it’s important to know that Ontario’s investment in child care is up 50% since 2003, and when the federal government walked away from child care, we stepped in. So—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: It’s very early in the session to stop giving answers. But I go back to the minister: We have day care centres, child care centres in Toronto and across Ontario that are going to close unless they get the support that you promised. They aren’t seeing it. What we hear is a huge commitment to corporate tax cuts, not to families and to their children. When will this minister put children and their families first, rather than corporations, and tell child care centres and families that their centres are not going to close?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: First of all, let me say that I look forward to working with all of our partners, including the city of Toronto, to continue to make Ontario’s education system, starting with our youngest learners, the very best in the world, and we have been making that progress since we have been elected.
We have provided $12 million over five years to help non-profit child care centres renovate and better serve younger learners, and since 2003, child care funding has increased from $532 million to $869 million, a 63% increase across the province.

I have said this personally to the member opposite: I am willing and engaged in this conversation. I am looking for the best advice that exists, but the starting point is to recognize that we are on the pathway to investing some $1.5 billion in full-day kindergarten, a historic transformation that will change the way our youngest learners in this province are engaged and learn in the future.