Question on Child Care in Ontario Legislature


Andrea Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre, asked the following Question in the Ontario Legislature on December 4, 2008 concerning the absence of child care expansion in Ontario:

Ms. Andrea Horwath: This is a question to the Deputy Premier. The availability of licensed, affordable, not-for-profit, publicly-funded child care must be a priority for poverty reduction in the province of Ontario. Only 12 per cent of Ontario's families have access to child care in this province. There are more than 23,000 eligible children on waiting lists in this province unable to obtain subsidies for affordable, licensed child-care. As part of her poverty reduction strategy, will the Minister of Children and Youth Services, be committing to adequate, stable core funding to meet the needs for child-care spaces in Ontario for all families?

Hon. George Smitherman: I do want to thank the honourable member for the question and encourage her to watch, with interest, the announcements today and the actions that stem from it. There are, associated with the issue of poverty of course, a wide variety of influences; the honourable member has raised an additional one. That's why, at the heart of it, we viewed the word comprehensive as essential to the work that's being undertaken. I think that the honourable member will see, from the announcement that take place, the work that the minister has done in leading our government forward and creating a framework that will allow for targets and measures to be adopted against which we can all be held accountable and that we can all strive to make progress, even in these uncertain and challenging economic times.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: In the response I heard nothing about child care, nothing at all. The reality is that struggling families in this province are desperate to break the cycle of poverty and it's very clear that a robust child care program can break the cycle of poverty. This government has talked about a full-day learning program. Nobody even knows when or if it's going to be implemented, but what we do know is that's not a substitute for child care for all children of all ages in this province. What we want to know and we want to know very clearly from this government: Do they have a commitment to implement a child care program for all of the children of this province that is affordable, that is accessible universally and that is reliant on the quad principles, as was once their plan some seven or five years ago?

Hon. George Smitherman: I want to thank the honourable member. The honourable member knows the Best Start circumstances in the Hamilton community that has led to the creation of more than 2,000 child care spots. We think this is a very strong example of the commitment that our government has made. But, like I said earlier, we recognize there are a wide variety of areas that can benefit from additional resource and that families and children living in poverty can benefit from. But at the heart of it, we think that it's important that there be targets and measures associated with that. That we can hold accountable the resources that are put into the system to make sure they're achieving the resources that are desired. On the matter of full-day kindergarten, I want to say to the honourable member that there are exciting opportunities that will be forthcoming and I appreciate, again, the honourable member raising an issue which demonstrates further the government's commitment to our youngest citizens.