Ford’s conservatives continue to fail parents during COVID-19. More than a week after the announced child care re-opening, no new funding to support child care centres during the pandemic has been introduced.
“Ford’s plan to reopen child care centres is risky—he’s taking a gamble on the health and safety of children, parents, and workers during one of the most devastating pandemics of our lifetime,” says Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, CUPE Social Services Chair. “Centres are now forced to lottery off child care spaces and consider staff layoffs and even closures, exactly what we need to avoid if we want to jumpstart our economic recovery. Many centres report that they cannot even access their child care spaces in schools, as no direction has been provided to school boards from the province.”
Child care centres across the province must now operate at a reduced capacity and follow new, and necessary, COVID-19 health and safety regulations without any additional funding. In response, CUPE and the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare (OCBCC) penned an open letter to Premier Ford and Minister Lecce condemning their plan—to date, the letter has garnered more than 23,000 supporters.
“Tens of thousands of concerned Ontarians are calling on the Premier Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce to make a real plan for child care that doesn’t force them into bankruptcy,” says Carolyn Ferns, OCBCC Policy Coordinator. “Ford’s short-sighted child care re-opening plan isn’t a plan at all, it’s an attack on publicly funded child care in the province. Expecting centres to safely re-open without new funding, adequate guidelines, and no notice is a recipe for disaster. Operators will have to seriously consider staffing levels and layoffs since funding remains uncertain, therefore putting the health and safety of all at risk.”
Families across Ontario are concerned—the economic recovery will hinge on the ability of parents, particularly women, to have access to safe and reliable child care.
“We’re all concerned about the re-opening,” says Kim Gilbert, parent, and Unit Chair of CUPE Local 543.4 in Windsor, Ontario. “Minister Leece and Premier Ford continue to destroy the very infrastructure required to support families like mine during the economic recovery. No amount of lip-service will repair the dire fiscal realities now facing child care operators across Ontario—Minister Leece and Premier Ford need to stop making empty statements and actually commit to real action now.”