TORONTO, ON –Years of starts, shifts and cuts, add up to inadequate public funding and ineffectual provincial policy by successive governments. It’s time for this situation to end, say a group of parents, early childhood educators and activists who, this election are challenging party leaders to “make the grade on child care”.
During this election campaign, Ontario families who need child care so they can work, retrain and attend school, are looking for the parties seeking to form government to commit to a package of immediate, short-term and long-term remedies outlined last week at a media conference outside Queen’s Park.
“We’re listening carefully for the right answers and grading the party leaders on their efforts and commitment to improve access to licensed child care and to stabilize existing programs. There will be a report card letting voters know who made the grade and who failed,” says Brooke Richardson, a mother of three and one of the parent members of the group.
So far none of the party leaders are off to a rousing start. Report card marks are dismal, ranging from mediocre Ds for the NDP and the Liberals to downright failure for Hudak and the PCs.
While both the Liberals and the NDP reiterated old policy planks, neither put forward a long-term plan including goals, targets and timetables to build a system. Neither made a commitment to provide $300 million in funding to keep child care centres from closing.
As for the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) in response to questions from media, Tim Hudak equated investments in licensed child care to incurring credit card debt. He also said he would cut staffing in full day kindergarten in half as part of massive overall education cuts.
“The Hudak PCs get an F. Over all there is much room for improvement,” says Richardson.
The child care report card will be made available early in June, well before election day on June 12.
Parent Advocate, Policy Studies PhD Program (Ryerson)|