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TORONTO – The Province of Ontario and City of Toronto need to work together to prevent a developing crisis in child care, say leaders of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

On Wednesday, we celebrated Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day in municipalities across Ontario. It’s time for the province to show their appreciation by keeping child care centres open, like they promised to do,” says Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “We support the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care in its call for the province to intervene with emergency funding to prevent hundreds of child care centres from closing before a permanent solution can be found in the spring budget.”

In Toronto yesterday, parents and workers from two child care centres held an event at Queen’s Park to draw attention to both their own imminent closures and to the larger problem facing child care in Ontario. Nearly 20,000 children are on waiting lists at child care centres in Toronto. Meanwhile, one-quarter of the child care centres are at risk of closure because of vacancies they cannot fill.

Across the province, several hundred child care centres could close within the next year because of funding shortfalls, potentially leaving nearly one-hundred communities without any regulated child care at all.

Ontarians need stable, quality child care in a public, not-for-profit system. Right now, as a province, we are letting kids down. That’s hurting families, it’s hurting women’s ability to work, it’s hurting our economy,” says Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario.

Compounding the problem is the province’s implementation of full-day kindergarten. Once touted as a way to have seamless care from morning to night in a supportive, educational environment, the province has since reneged on its promises. As a result, schools will only provide kindergarten during regular school hours, leaving parents to scramble for before- and after-school care. Child care centres will have difficulty attracting and retaining trained, professional care workers and early childhood educators for the part-time, split-shift positions that will remain.

We worry that when great child care centres like Progress Child Care in Scarborough are being forced to close, children will be put into unlicensed, unregulated and potentially unsafe care,” says Hahn. “A strong system of stable, professional, public not-for-profit child care centres lets parents go to work without worrying about their kids. Child care workers and early childhood educators in these centres truly are the backbone of a strong economy. They deserve more than just our appreciation, they deserve our support.”

CUPE Ontario is calling on the city and province to work together to stabilize and strengthen our municipally delivered and community-based child care centres.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications: 416-576-7316