TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario welcomed Monday’s announcement by the federal and Ontario governments that child care fees will be reduced by 50% by the new year.
“Affordable child care is life changing for families and for our communities. It is great to see the collaboration between the federal and provincial governments making that a reality for Ontario families,” said Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care Policy Coordinator Carolyn Ferns.
Ontario also announced more details of its use of federal expansion funds, with a promise to use $213 million in federal Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care funds for start-up grants to child care programs around Ontario.
While it is positive to hear the Ontario government speak about expanding licensed child care, advocates cautioned that it will be impossible to increase the number of licensed spaces without addressing the child care workforce crisis. Around Ontario, child care programs cannot operate at capacity right now because of the child care recruitment and retention crisis, let alone plan for expansion.
The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario have called for a workforce strategy including:
- A salary scale starting at $25 per hour for all child care workers and $30 per hour for Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs);
- Benefits and pensions;
- Paid sick days;
- Professional development time;
- Paid programming time.
“We need decent work and pay. We need the federal and provincial governments to bring the same level of ambition and collaboration that they have brought to lowering child care fees to raising child care worker wages and developing a real workforce strategy”, said Rachel Vickerson of the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario.
The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care also urges the province to increase transparency as the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care plan gets underway in Ontario.
“We need regular public reporting, accountability mechanisms and transparent public consultation going forward. How many child care spaces have already been created? And where are they located? How will programs be selected for expansion and how will the government be guaranteeing that we are expanding primarily in public and non-profit sectors as required under the CWELCC agreement? We need to ensure that every dollar going to create spaces for families is well spent,” said Ferns.