Ontario urged to champion child care on national stage

Toronto Star.

With Ottawa poised to begin federal-provincial talks on a promised national early learning and child-care framework, advocates are urging Queen’s Park to set bold objectives and play a leadership role.

“Now that Ontario has a ‘willing partner’ on child care, the province has a chance to start thinking a little bigger, beyond wage subsidies,” said Carolyn Ferns of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.

The province announced the second of two $1-an-hour wage enhancement grants on Friday for workers in licensed child-care centres and home daycares. It will boost wages by up to $2-an-hour in the chronically underpaid child-care field.

Although the wage grant is a welcome start, Ontario needs a comprehensive workplace strategy to address low wages, poor working conditions and high staff turnover that has plagued child care for years, Ferns said.

You can’t build a high quality system for children and families when workers with four-year university degrees or two-year college diplomas, earn a median of just $16 an hour and are forced to work split shifts to serve children in full-day kindergarten, she said....