08/09/2012

The provincial government has moved forward on its cornerstone policy piece, full day early learning and kindergarten, and expects to implement the program province-wide by 2014-2015. 2012 Backgrounder.
The vision was built on a 2009 report by Dr. Charles Pascal, commissioned by Premier McGuinty, With our Best Future in Mind, which provided a roadmap to develop an integrated system to provide early learning and child care. This report identified municipalities as “leaders amongst leaders” in the implementation of the government’s vision, since child care centres are among the host of services that municipalities oversee and provide.

AMO has supported the government’s vision to create a system of early learning and child care, which has proven to be a critical factor in creating and sustaining a healthy and prosperous society. For the program to succeed, however, there are a number of issues that must be addressed. AMO has shared its concerns about some of the potential unintended consequences of moving to this new system, including:

  • Destabilization of local child care systems;
  • Increased administrative and licensing pressures on municipal staff, resulting in new costs to municipalities, such as capital costs in child care centres;
  • Necessity of negotiating a new relationship with school boards; 
  • Governance concerns and potential new funding responsibilities related to the Best Start Child and Family Resource Centres, which would provide a range of health, information, parenting and children’s resources; and,
  • Continued underfunding of child care in the absence of federal funding.
The provincial government has responded by providing roughly $12 million in fee subsidies for the before and after school program and $51 million over six years in stabilization funding for child care centres as four and five-year-olds move into the education system. 

AMO and municipalities can play an important role in ensuring a strong foundational policy and program approach is put in place. Critical to this is the government’s commitment to engage AMO and municipalities on issues of governance, implementation and funding. Ultimately, the issues of appropriate funding and access through affordability must be addressed.

The province recently released a discussion paper, Modernizing Child Care in Ontario, to encourage feedback from families and the child care sector. Stakeholder input will be key to guiding the modernization of child care and ensuring it works effectively with full day kindergarten once it is implemented in 2014-2015. The Ontario government is providing the opportunity to read and comment on the discussion paper. Feedback was accepted until Sept. 24, 2012.