March 26th, 2013. Mr. Phil McNeely askes Hon. Liz Sandals about Child Care:
Mr. Phil McNeely: My question is to the Minister of Education. Many of my constituents have been coming to me with questions about our government’s work on child care. For my constituents, child care is essential for their child’s development. It offers our children an opportunity to be social and learn important interactive skills.
For many of our young ones, child care is the first step in their pursuit of lifelong learning. For many families, child care provides parents with the security of knowing that their child is safe and cared for while they are at work. It’s important that my constituents know what this government is doing to provide quality and accessible child care in Ontario.
To the Minister of Education: Please inform this House on the work that is being done to provide sustainable child care in Ontario.
Hon. Liz Sandals: Thank you to the member from Ottawa–Orléans for this important question, and thank you to the member for his advocacy on behalf of his constituents and for access to child care.
Our government is working hard to enhance the quality and accessibility of child care so that our children can have access to the best-quality care. As we work towards that goal, it is so important that we hear from child care operators themselves and gather important data that can help us for the future.
That’s why, in July 2012, our government launched a questionnaire which gathered important information from licensed care facilities. The survey asked important questions about child care operations, fees, wages and finances. My ministry has posted a summary of the results from this survey on the ministry website, and the information will inform policy—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mr. Phil McNeely: I agree that gathering information from our licensed child care operators is an important way to get a better understanding of child care in Ontario. I’m quite happy to hear as well that our government has important data that will help us continue to improve child care in Ontario.
According to a recent TD Economics report, investments in early childhood education help improve a child’s development. I know that many of our child care operators are adapting to the implementation of full-day kindergarten. Full-day kindergarten is such an important tool that will give our young students an essential start to their education, including my two grandchildren, who have just completed it.
But child care also plays a significant role in early learning. Mr. Speaker, through you, can the minister please elaborate on the government’s programs that will make sure that child care continues to play an essential role in early learning?
Hon. Liz Sandals: Speaker, since 2003 our government has increased funding for child care by almost 90%. In that process, we’ve helped create nearly 90,000 licensed child care spaces.
Our government is committed to working with our partners to stabilize and modernize child care to ensure that families and children have access to high-quality programs and care. One of the steps we’ve taken was the release of our discussion paper Modernizing Child Care in Ontario: Sharing Conversations, Strengthening Partnerships, Working Together. This was released in June 2012. We’re seeking input on strengthening.
We have also changed the funding model to a funding model that now reflects the demographics of a community.