On Friday April 10, 2020, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that Ontario was banning closed child care centres from charging parent fees, and requiring that centres keep spaces for parents while programs are temporarily closed by emergency order. He did not announce any additional funding for child care centres to replace lost parent fees. The following statement from OCBCC President Sheila Olan-Maclean is in response to Minister Lecce's announcement:
"I am deeply concerned by the Ontario government’s rhetoric toward child care programs, coupled with their lack of action on a sustainability plan for the sector. Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s statement on Friday - which banned child care centres from charging parent fees, while neglecting to provide sustainability funding for the sector - maligned the early learning and child care sector and ignored the incredible work that child care professionals are doing to keep families and children connected: the volunteerism; the donating of time and resources; the support given in the way of providing emergency child care.
I am disappointed that the government has taken the political opportunity to paint themselves as the saviours of parents. Against who? Child care operators? Child care programs who are charging parent fees do so because they have significant fixed costs and there is no funding plan to sustain child care. Many child care programs have not been charging fees since Day 1 of closure - instead many are being forced to lay off staff, or go into debt. There has been no clear direction from the Ontario government about how programs might survive until Ontario gets back to work. Cash flow is a huge issue for operators.
What should operators tell their staff? We have been assuring them that the Ontario government is listening and will offer assistance to sustain the sector, that it takes time and we must be patient. And now the announcement finally comes and it is to protect only parents, with nothing to ensure that educators can keep their jobs or that programs will not have to permanently close. Like everyone in these times, our educators deserve and need to be recognized for they work they are doing. And if the government were really interested in protecting parents, they would work to ensure that parents’ child care programs have not permanently shuttered by the time families need to get back to working outside the home. "
- Sheila Olan-Maclean is President of the Board of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and CEO of Compass Early Learning and Child Care, which is providing emergency child care services for essential service workers in Peterborough.
Send Minister Lecce a message telling him to support our Emergency Plan for Ontario Child Care, which would protect families, educators and child care programs.