The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
On June 6, the OCBCC made a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance on Bill 55 – the Budget bill.
The bill, with $242 million in new provincial funding to stabilize child care programs, will go for a final vote on June 25, and then the legislature will break for the summer
My name is Katie Arnup.
I’m the campaigns coordinator of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.
I am here with Kathlyn de Vera Dore, a parent-to-be, to speak on the critical issue of child care.
I want to thank both the Liberal and NDP parties for acknowledging the essential role this sector plays in our communities and for coming to an agreement to add funding to the provincial budget to sustain our child care programs.
The very fact that child care was allotted new funding reflects how neglected our sector has been for many years and the crisis point we had reached.
Experts across the province warned of a complete collapse in the absence of funding.
For many years, provincial funding, which supports child care subsidies has been flat-lined. In order to continue to provide critical services to Ontario families, child care programs have been forced to increase fees.
Now most child care spaces cost more than the average family can afford. As subsidy wait-lists grow, over 20,000 here in Toronto, centres experience vacancies and risk closure.
While we support full day kindergarten, without money to stabilize child care programs and transition to the role of caring for younger children, the cost of offering care to children and families will simply continue to go up.
We are not the only ones who fear collapse. Our sector is united that $287 million is the amount needed to stabilize Ontario’s existing programs. And so, while we acknowledge the funding proposed, it is roughly one third of what is needed to save the sector.
We will still see child care centres close – not because children and families don’t need child care – but because the cost is too high for neighbourhood families.
Most at risk are child care centres in low income neighbourhoods.
Programs such as Progress Child Care, Bond Child & Family Development, and the Rainbow Centre in rural Atikokan remain on our list of at-risk centres.
Meanwhile, at a time when colleges should be expanding and enhancing their ECE programs to educate the next generation of ECEs for Ontario’s Early Learning Program, we see them closing their lab schools –a devastating loss of high quality child care for the surrounding community and an important learning opportunity for students in the program.
Loyalist College just announced the closure of their high quality program.
What’s more, we will continue to see qualified and hardworking early childhood educators underpaid and undervalued. We will continue to see child care staff leave child care, in order to make enough money to support their own families.
And we will continue to see families struggle to find high quality, affordable, not-for-profit child care for their children. As a result of lack of options, some parents will stay home – meaning our economy suffers.
But most parents, who still need to (and want to) work, will find someone, somewhere to look after their children. Some children will be left watching TV for hours at a time in unlicensed care – meaning the children themselves will suffer without the great early learning that will give them the best start in life.
We know that right now, 4 out of 5 Ontario kids are in this position. And it won’t get better without an investment from our government.
With exciting new changes in full day kindergarten and the move of child care to the ministry of Education, this is an opportunity for the government to invest in our children and the province’s economic future.
I would now like to invite Kathlyn de Vera Dore to talk about her personal experience.
My name is Kathlyn de Vera Dore and frankly I’m worried about the future. I’ve just completed my ECE diploma at George Brown and I will be continuing my education in the Early Childhood Studies degree program at Ryerson University.
I’ve always been aware of the lack of funding for affordable child care through the eyes of an early childhood educator. I have seen the impacts on programs and also on families, meeting parents on wait-lists or having trouble affording care.
Now, at 5 months pregnant, the crisis in child care feels far more personal.
How am I going to find a good child care space? If there are only spaces for 1 in 5 children, my odds are not good. But with a shortage of qualified ECEs to work in the field, Ontario needs me to work in early learning and child care.
And if I find a space, how is my family possibly going to afford the cost? Do you know how expensive infant care is? It’s not out of the question to pay $18,000 for infant care.
If you don’t think that child care keeps families awake at night, you are wrong. It does.
A bit of funding here, a bit of funding there, like that proposed in this budget just keeps putting patches on a broken child care system. We need real funding for affordable, high quality not-for-profit early learning and child care for every single child who needs it. That’s why we are here today. Thank you.