Resolving child care issues at Queen’s Park

The last few weeks of the legislative session have been incredibly productive and satisfying. I was honoured to lead the debate on our government’s climate change bill, my Men’s Health Awareness Week bill moved through second reading, and I presented a private member’s bill asking the province to ban waiting list fees by child cares in Ontario.

The day after the latter bill was introduced, the Minister of Education announced regulatory changes that would effectively ban the imposition of non-refundable “wait list fees” by licensed child care operators across the province. The announcement marked the end of a brief and effective campaign to affect the kind of small but important changes that directly benefit families in our community.

The push for these changes began in August 2015, when a constituent emailed our office expressing her concern about being charged money to be on a waiting list for a local child care without any promise of registration. After an in-person meeting and a lot of calls and emails, a petition was drafted, circulated, signed, and presented at the legislature.

The reading of a petition into the legislative record is a great way to prioritize an issue.

Petitions are not simply read to reinforce the presence of an idea or concern, they are catalysts that can initiate the work that will help change take place.

In this case, the petition and the constituents’ advocacy led to detailed discussions in caucus and with the Ministry of Education. Four weeks later, my bill was presented and the announcement made.

This change is another step in the government’s effort to modernize child care in Ontario. The Child Care and Early Years Act provides a new legislative framework to increase access and oversight in Ontario’s child care sector.

It clearly defines programs that require a license and those that are exempt, to support informed choices for parents about their child care options, and introduces stronger oversight with greater enforcement tools and protections that will enhance the safety of children in licensed and unlicensed child care settings.

Implementing new regulations, however, is never without challenges. One change, stemming from a concern of the Ombudsman, was to stop child care businesses that operate year-round from temporarily setting up as day camps during the summer to avoid the staffing obligations (and costs) they incur the rest of the year.

These new rules threatened the viability of Community Centre 55’s very successful summer camp operation because they operate as a licensed child care for the rest of the year. Some 2,000 campers, 60 summer staff and 40 councilor-in-training positions were at risk. When my office learned this, we were able to work with Centre 55 and the Ministry to clarify when and how the new rules should apply, and helped ensure the summer camp could remain open.

It’s my role and my privilege to help our community to succeed, and I encourage you to contact our office with your ideas, questions or concerns. We are here to listen and to assist wherever possible, and to provide direction if an issue or problem is out of our jurisdiction. I can bring forward your petitions and help explore your ideas for news laws or regulations. We can’t resolve what we don’t know about, so I encourage you to get in touch. Have a wonderful summer!


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3 comments

Thank you for helping to improve child care in the province. As an unlicensed home daycare provider looking to go back to teaching this fall, In addition to applying for teaching jobs, I happened to also apply for an ECE job, on a whim. After all, I love teaching and caring for children of all ages, and I have learned volumes for the past 6.5 years I have been running a home daycare. My heart has always had extra compassion for the vulnerable; infants can’t yet speak, and children often aren’t able to articulate how they are treated. I like to be one of the patient, loving, positive people in this sensitive time in their development. The company I applied to sent me screening questions which I answered and sent back. They replied back, saying that my wage expectation of $20 was far above the hourly pay of an ECE, which is $11.44. This is appalling. How can anyone live on this wage? How on earth will quality child care workers be motivated to work at these centres for such an obscenely low amount of pay? I am sickened that we live in a society that values the care of our children so little; that we respect this profession so little. I respect my work as a child care provider. I clearly see its importance every day I work with the children in my care. How does society not see the problems that could be alleviated in our future generation by providing quality care to the young? Perhaps these questions are too big. Perhaps I’m just a dreamer. But I know in my heart that this…

Hi Charla,

In regards to the wage disputes within our sector, you will find the wage will hover around $11.40 on the low end and $19 on the high ends, within our sector. This is due to a wide array of issues that is affecting child care across the province. Among the reasons for this is because our wages are wholly pay from the fees collected from families. Therefore, many non-profit centre use lower wages to prevent cost overruns for families which can range from 60 to 100 pre/day with and average for around $1220 monthly cost for a infant. The province does not currently allocate wage supplement program for the vast majority of centre. Because of the lack of public investment in staff and centres, many providers are forced to pay lower wages to it’s staff. Currently, $20 is not possible with progressive support from the province. Our sector has many people working on better the wages of RECE across the province I would advice you to check the AECEO and the Ontario Collision fro Better Child Care’s websites to learn more.

Sincerely,

Amir Ali Baig, RECE

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