Ministry of Education
22nd Floor, Mowat Block, 900 Bay Street
Dear Minister Sandals:
Parents in Ontario should be able to expect the highest quality in child care. No parent should have to worry that their child’s safety is being put at risk. But experts say that the government’s changes to childcare regulations could seriously harm the quality of childcare in Ontario. We are calling on you to listen to the parents and experts, stop these changes, and make sure that safety is the number one concern.
We are writing to express our deep concern about proposed regulation changes to licensed child care, especially those concerning age groups, ratios and group sizes.
We have heard from many child care centres, parents, Early Childhood Educators and sector leaders from across Ontario, who have raised the alarm that these proposals would both compromise child care quality and negatively impact access to licensed child care spaces for Ontario’s youngest children.
Specifically, the proposals to change age groups, essentially redefining some infants as toddlers and some toddlers as preschoolers, would lead to some very young children being placed in larger groups with fewer staff.
The Canadian Pediatric Society, recommends that: “to optimize the quality of child care centres, staff ratios should be… 3:1 for children younger than two years of age, 4:1 for children 24 to 30 months of age and 5:1 for children 31 to 36 months of age.” Ontario’s proposed child to staff ratios are in excess of these recommendations for every age group.
Early childhood education and care experts, like Martha Friendly from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, have also pointed out that the ratio and group size proposals are weaker than almost all other Canadian jurisdictions, claiming that if they are instituted “Ontario will be leading the race to the bottom” on child care quality.
We have also heard that child care centres are concerned that the changes will have a negative impact on accessibility of spaces, especially for infant care. Limiting the infant age range to 0-12 months will make many of these programs unviable or push parent fees even higher than they are currently. Many young families who are unable to take a full year of maternity and parental leave will be negatively affected by this change.
Parents in Ontario are already paying the highest childcare fees in the country. Various centres have expressed concerns that these regulation changes, coupled with the fact that there is no new funding commitment, will force parents to pay the difference in through fee increases. Parents and children should not be forced to pay the price of this government’s shortsightedness.
Rather than pushing ahead with these changes, we urge the Ontario government to be a leader in developing a high quality, integrated early learning and child care system together with the federal government and other provinces and territories, and to begin immediately to develop a comprehensive plan for Ontario child care to finally deliver a quality child care system that all Ontario families can afford and trust.
MPP Windsor West