Toronto– Today marks the first annual Child Care Worker Appreciation Day across the province. Fifty Ontario municipalities have now proclaimed October 24 as the day to honour child care workers for their influence, dedication and commitment to families. But, says Sid Ryan the Ontario President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) the union that represent more than 20,000 child care workers province-wide, the Ontario Tory government has no commitment to child care and continues to short-change families and workers by inadequately funding licensed child care.
While honouring the staff of the Hester Howe Child Care Centre in Toronto with bouquets of daisies (the hardest working flower) CUPE and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) released a joint report today, entitled Stepping Up for Child Care that shows clearly that regulated child care is in crisis province-wide, that there is less support for the families of children with special needs and that tens of thousands of licensed child care spaces must be in place to meet the needs of working families in Ontario.
This year, the federal government gave Ontario $114-million for early child development services. But the Ontario Tories have no commitment to quality child care and none of the money went to licensed child care. Next year, Ontarios share of the five-year $2.5 billion in federal money is $152 million.
We want that money to go directly into creating new regulated child care. If this government were to use all the federal child development money to improve there would be 44,000 new child care spaces available to ensure working families have access to quality, regulated care for their children, says Ryan.
The findings of the Stepping Up for Child Care report include:
- Provincial downloading has meant that the most vulnerable children those with special needs have even less chance than before to get the support they need.
- Provincial government changes that removed child care from the education funding formula is causing tension in schools, and have resulted in reduced caretaking services, new maintenance fees, huge rent increases, loss of space and the threat of eviction.
- Most programs have received no government money to bring child care centre playgrounds up to new safety standards and centres have been forced to raise funds or dismantle their equipment.
- Low wages in the sector is resulting in severe staffing shortages.
CUPE and the OCCC are calling on the provincial government to:
- Develop a Quebec-style child care program that provides affordable, high-quality regulated child care;
- Maintain municipal child care centers;
- Allocate a fair portion of the federal Early Childhood Development Initiative funds to regulated child care;
- Allocate more funding for children with special needs.
For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications