August 2017

Investments in child care and early learning make good economic sense for Ontario. They help families and communities thrive by making full-time work possible. Especially in northern and rural communities, child care systems help attract and retain the skilled workforce needed to grow local economies.

Child care program delivery is cost-shared with the province, but municipal governments and District Social Service Administration Boards (DSSABs) play a significant role in funding, planning, managing and in some cases, also directly delivering child care programs.

Municipal governments and DSSABs are well-positioned to help the provincial government determine how best to implement its Child Care Modernization and Early Years initiatives. This includes finding ways to increase access to licensed, high quality, affordable child care and early years programming.

A key piece of the provincial Child Care Modernization initiative is the Child Care and Early Years Act, which came into effect in August 2015. The child care system in Ontario had not changed fundamentally since 1980 and this Act transforms child care to enhance programs and supports for children aged 0-12 years, over several years. AMO is committed to continue providing the Province with municipal advice to help shape the accompanying regulations to this legislation.

In early 2016, the Province announced the establishment of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres, which will integrate four current programs. The Province will be transferring responsibility for the centres to municipalities in January 2018. AMO expects that the ongoing program costs will be 100% funded by the Province and not require a new cost-shared program.

The provincial government has also committed funds to expand 100,000 new child care spaces across the province over the next five years. This significant move should increase access to licensed, affordable child care. Municipal governments and DSSABs will play an instrumental role in implementing this expansion.

In addition, in its 2016 Budget, the federal government proposed to invest $500 million nationally to support the establishment of a new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework. As of June 2017, the provincial and federal governments had signed the bi-lateral Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. This will result in more funding for a municipally managed child care and early years system. These funds will help increase access to licensed, affordable, high quality child care and early learning programs. This renewed federal engagement is welcome given current underfunding of the system.

AMO looks forward to this intergovernmental collaboration and is committed to child care programs that expand access to more affordable, high-quality child care for Ontario residents.