10/27/2009

The Premier announced how the government will move forward on implementing the recommendations for a high quality system of early learning and child care.
Issue:

The Premier announced today how the government will move forward on implementing the recommendations for a high quality system of early learning and child care in Ontario contained in the Early Learning Advisor’s Report released earlier this year.

Background:

In November 2007, the Premier of Ontario announced the appointment of Dr. Charles Pascal to the position of Early Learning Advisor and asked him “to recommend the best way to implement full-day learning for four- and five-year-olds”. 

Dr. Pascal’s Report, With our Best Future in Mind: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario, contains 20 recommendations on implementing an integrated system of early learning and child care for 0 to 12 year olds beginning in 2010.

In short, the report calls for a new provincially funded, school-based system of early learning and child care for four and five year olds. Children under four years of age would continue to be served in the municipally managed system. The report contends that by removing four and five years olds from the municipal system, the existing resources in that system would be used to better serve children under four, with the hope of increasing access to child care for families with young children.

Today’s announcement focused on moving forward with a phased implementation of moving four and five year olds into the school system beginning in September 2010 with full implementation commencing in 2015/16. The first phase will see 35,000 four and five year olds move into the education system. Information on which schools will be included in the first phase of implementation will be provided at a later date.

The government’s commitment to moving forward on the recommendations of the Early Learning Advisor is an important first step in addressing the child care pressures in Ontario. Moving towards a school based system for four and five year olds will ensure high quality and adequately funded early learning for this group. The commitment also recognizes that investment in children is an investment in our future prosperity.

Municipalities are expected to play a key role in the transitional impacts related to child care.  AMO’s goal is to ensure that opportunities for the child care system serving children under four remains stable and responsive to local needs.

This good news story highlights the importance of all orders of government committing to the child care and early learning needs of our families and children.

At this time, the federal government is scheduled to eliminate $64 million in child care funding for Ontario’s municipalities as of March 31, 2010. As mandated providers of child care services, Ontario’s municipal governments believe that the federal government must fix its cut of the approximately $64 million in federal child care funding. Municipal governments should not be put in the position of having to eliminate child care spaces with the elimination of these funds and Ontario’s families should not be put in a position of struggling to find high quality early learning and care for their children.

Action:

AMO looks forward to working with the Province to make the most of this opportunity and help ensure the process is as smooth as possible for children, their parents and municipal governments who are child care providers.