Open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne about proposed changes to staff: child ratios and group sizes in Ontario child care centres

To sign the open letter send your name and details to: childcareletter@gmail.com

Dear Premier Wynne:

We are Ontario parents, educators, service providers, academics and community members. We are very concerned about some of the regulatory changes your government has proposed that would affect child care centres. We are especially troubled by the changes to age group composition that will have the effect of reducing staff: child ratios and increasing group sizes.

We believe that these will have two negative outcomes: first, they will erode the quality of care that is so important for young children. Second, the changes will have a negative impact on accessibility, making much-needed spaces, particularly for infants, even less financially and practically viable than now.  

Expert opinion shows the proposed ratios/group size regulations for children aged 12-18 months and 24-30 months to be below even minimum recommended quality standards and lower than almost all other Canadian jurisdictions. This would mean that young children in child care would be cared for by too few adults in too-large groups.

It is hard to argue that a two year old with the proposed 1:8 adult: child ratio in a group of 24 is in a “quality” or even a safe environment.  While we are pleased with the proposal to increase the number of Registered Early Childhood Educators, research suggests that an increase in trained staff is not a trade-off for decent ratios and group sizes.  Additionally, the already-stretched, underpaid, 97% female child care workforce cannot continue to pick up the slack for massive gaps in public financing.  

Your government contends that these changes are necessary because they will “increase access”. To the contrary, analyses by public entities and community service providers show that “new” infant rooms with a younger, narrower age range at a very high fee will close and that there will be severe financial and practical effects that affect service viability across age groups.

We recognize that there are good reasons to make changes in early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Ontario.  But we believe that these must be based on the best available evidence about what is of most benefit to children and families; we argue that these proposed changes are not. Additionally, we suggest that changes in ECEC in Ontario will continue to have negative effects if they continue to be “piecemeal”.

Thus, we propose that your government needs to withdraw proposed changes to age ranges, ratios and group sizes. Instead we recommend that the government develop a well-considered road map that begins with a clear vision, goals/objectives, targets and timetables, with regulatory changes as one part of this plan. This would have a better chance for successful policy change. We also call on Ontario to play a positive leadership role with the new federal Liberal government and other provinces/territories in developing the high quality universal integrated ECEC system that so many have been seeking for so long.    

Signed,

Organizations

Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario
Campaign 2000 - Ontario
Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario
Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2484 Child Care Workers
Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
Childcare Resource and Research Unit
Family Service Toronto
Ontario Federation of Labour
Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care

Child care centres and service providers

Pat Schulz Child Care Centre, Toronto
University of Guelph Child Care & Learning Centre, Guelph
East Toronto Village Children’s Centre, Toronto 
First Adventure Child Development Centre, Belleville
Red Apple Day Care, Toronto 
Mathew-John Day Care Centre, Toronto
Plains Rd Child Care Centre, Toronto
ABC Day Nursery, Windsor
Sector leaders, researchers and academics
Sheila Olan-Maclean, President, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
Noreen McChesney, President, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario
Martha Friendly, Executive Director, Childcare Resource and Research Unit
Anita Khanna, Director of Social Action and Community Building, Family Service Toronto and National Coordinator, Campaign 2000
Fred Hahn, President, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, CUPE Ontario Social Services Committee Chair
Chris Buckley, President, Ontario Federation of Labour
Patty Coates-Jarvis, Secretary-Treasurer, Women's Committee Chair, Ontario Federation of Labour
Shellie Bird, Child Care Coordinator, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Ottawa
Janet Davis, Toronto City Councillor
Professor Donna S. Lero, PhD, Jarislowsky Chair in Families and Work, University of Guelph
Petr Varmuza, PhD Candidate, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Tricia van Rhijn, PhD, RECE, Assistant Professor of Family Relations & Human Development, University of Guelph
Kathleen Brophy PhD, Professor Emerita, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph
Kathleen Lahey, Professor, Faculty of Law, Queen's University, Kingston Ont.
Rachel Langford PhD, Director, School of Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University.
Dr. Patrizia Albanese, Professor, Department of Sociology, Ryerson University. 
Kathryn Underwood, Associate Professor, Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University
Rianne Mahon, CIGI Chair and Professor, Balsillie School of International Affairs and Department of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University
Dasha Shalimo, RECE, PhD, Professor, Early Childhood Education, Sheridan Institute for Technology and Advanced Learning
Dr. Elaine Winick, RECE, Professor, School of Early Childhood, George Brown College, Toronto
Monica Lysack, RECE, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Sheridan College, Oakville 
Goranka Vukelich, RECE, Chair, Child, Youth & Community Development, Conestoga College, Kitchener 
Andrea Ferguson, RECE, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Seneca College, Toronto
Brooke Richardson, B.A, M.A, ECME, Instructor, School of Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University
Karen Chandler, Professor, Early Childhood Education, George Brown College
Evelina Lukaszyk, M.A., RECE, Instructor, School of Early Childhood Studies, Ryerson University & George Brown College
Early childhood education and care champions
Carolyn Ferns, Public Policy Coordinator, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
Lyndsay Macdonald, Coordinator, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario
Jane Mercer, Coordinator, Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care
Viktoria Bitto, Membership Coordinator, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
Christina Gilligan, National Representative, Canadian Union of Public Employees
Lorna Reid, Director, University of Guelph Child Care and Learning Centre
Bethany Grady, RECE, Research Officer, Childcare Resource and Research Unit
Alana Powell, RECE, Toronto
Teresa Burke, RECE, Executive Director, Peterborough
Debbie Milne RECE, Executive Director, Belleville
Laura Thompson, Vice Chair, OPSEU Provincial Women's Committee
Kim Gilbert, RECE, Parent, CUPE Social Service Workers Coordinating Committee Child Care Representative, Windsor
Lisa Tjernstrom, RECE 
Ruth Huston, RECE, Program Manager, York Child Development, Newmarket  
Chanequa Cameron, RECE, Toronto   
Laura Coulman, RECE, Child Care Planning and Policy Analyst, County of Wellington
Sue Parker, Membership Administrator, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario 
Lena DaCosta, Events and Communications, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario 
Jola Sadocha, Supervisor, Mathew-John Day Care Centre
Kim Crawford, Associate Supervisor, Matthew-John Day Care Centre
Viorica Ilie, RECE
Samantha Smith, RECE
Alicia Mastandrea, RECE
Irene Georgopoulos
Nuna Ly, RECE
Elvira Mendoza
Eraneea Muthra
Natalia Iwanek
Angela Dixon, RECE
Yanika Wong, RECE
Ann-Kristin Bito, RECE
Eva Weber, RECE
Naomi Weerasoorija, RECE
Cecilia Cianflocca, RECE
Cathy O'Toole, RECE
Tim Bullen
Natasha O'Toole
Rhyen McGill
Anne O'Toole
Gary O'Toole
Eve Mate, RECE
Carolyn Brennan, RECE
Linda Rothman
Debra Deonarine, RECE
Jennifer Schettler, RECE
Tanya Harrison, RECE
Carlso Garrido, RECE
Suriya Abdulhai, RECE
Hae Won Lee
Baole Liu Le, RECE
Philip Drube, parent
Ran Salam, parent
Dasantila Kotra, parent
Linh Luu, parent
Georgina Sayno, parent
Ali Khan, parent
Renne Maynard, parent
Kaye Holmes, RECE
Filomena Lacaria RECE
Karen Anthony, RECE
Donna Spreitzer, RECE
Jeanette Da Costa, RECE
Aisha Scales, parent, Board Vice Chair from St. Lawrence Coop Day Care Inc.
Yomi Bailey, RECE
Susan Snook, RECE  

Showing 120 reactions

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  • commented 2016-04-09 15:51:30 -0400
    As a student who is graduating into the field of ECE I have learned how important it is for children’s development to receive attention from their caregiver. With the proposed changes in ages and ratios it is going to be very hard for RECEs to respond to children proactively. These changes mean that RECE are going to be running around trying to put out fires and struggle to keep those infants that are not walking from getting injured. Please reconsider these proposed changes and make an informed decision.
  • commented 2016-04-06 08:34:48 -0400
    Foreseeable consequences with vulnerable children being bullied or worse going missing; as overwhelmed qualified staff are busy changing diapers and multi-tasking.
  • commented 2016-04-05 19:50:05 -0400
    Nicole Leece RECE and parent of almost 5 year old Charlotte
  • commented 2016-04-04 11:58:16 -0400
    Dawn Vardy, RECE
  • commented 2016-04-02 16:04:29 -0400
    Rachel Crespi – ECE Student
  • commented 2016-04-01 16:54:27 -0400
    Angela Dauda RECE
  • commented 2016-04-01 11:18:34 -0400
    Erin Harvey- Student
  • commented 2016-04-01 09:18:43 -0400
    Ambreen Altaf ECE Student (Graduating April 2016)
  • commented 2016-03-31 19:03:12 -0400
    Please reconsider this proposal. This is not fair or right for the children, parents, or educators, and is definitely NOT in the best interest of the children. Julie Aldrich-Cunday RECE
  • commented 2016-03-31 11:44:22 -0400
    I am opposed to this proposal. This will impact quality of care; something we have worked so hard to achieve. This does NOT compliment Ontario’s pedagogy for the early years. Anna Kyriakakis RECE
  • commented 2016-03-31 10:22:17 -0400
    I am very concerned about these changes as they directly affect my children in daycare obtaining less attention and at a higher cost. Aren’t liberals supposed to be on the people’s side? This is not helping our family or our community. Please reconsider this terrible proposal.
  • commented 2016-03-31 09:01:31 -0400
    The very youngest at age 18 months should not have to contend with possibly aggressive and bigger older ones. For the little one to be faced with leaving the safety of mommy to go to day care at all is challenging enough as it is.
  • commented 2016-03-31 05:55:23 -0400
    The sizes are too large to manage safely. The care and safety should come first !!!!
  • commented 2016-03-31 00:13:07 -0400
    This needs to stop, stop adding more work to all while endangering lives of those that will be improperly cared for. Not fair to anyone involved . Jocelyne , parent
  • commented 2016-03-30 20:39:07 -0400
    Instead of doing this, it would make more sense for mat leave to be extended for 18 months instead. Would solve a lot of issues.

    There is too much of a difference in development to have 1 year olds in with 2 year olds! Clearly those who thought out this plan are not in childcare!

    Melody Kneisel RECE
  • commented 2016-03-30 19:19:21 -0400
    These changes are not thought out very thoroughly. May cut costs and the amount of grants the government has to pay but will increase the amount of accidents and issues long term. Poor decision. I oppose the changes 100% as a mom and an RECE.
  • commented 2016-03-30 18:37:59 -0400
    When advocating for children, as you say you are, then please see the research that indicates the needs of each age that consequently requires the attention of qualified ECEs. Why risk the safety of the children in order to solve a more complex issue. Tina McLean RECE
  • commented 2016-03-30 13:00:52 -0400
    Denise Blake RECE
  • commented 2016-03-30 11:42:35 -0400
    Cathy kaitting RECE
  • commented 2016-03-30 10:59:57 -0400
    I strongly urge you not to proceed with these changes – Faye Jantzi RECE
  • commented 2016-03-30 07:50:22 -0400
    The ratio changes and mixed age groups will not only make it difficult for the educators but the children will be affected the most. This is NOT a good decision.
  • commented 2016-03-30 07:34:45 -0400
    I opposed to this there are working Mom’s out there instead of mom’s collecting welfare and they are capable of working
  • commented 2016-03-30 07:19:03 -0400
    I oppose these changes
  • commented 2016-03-30 06:36:00 -0400
    I do not agree with the proposed changes.
    WP, RECE
  • commented 2016-03-29 22:33:48 -0400
    Opposed. Countries like Sweden, Norway and Finland are great examples of early years education approach. Perhaps we should extend the maternity leave to 18 months so infants can have proper care and they will be ready to star at 18 months in a proper toddler program with 18 mths-2 1/2 year olds. Lowering the ratio and expanding the age gap is no solution. We need to invest and dig deeper in proper quality education for our children specially during their early years.
    Ariadna Ojeda-Hourie RECE and concerned parent.
  • commented 2016-03-29 18:56:46 -0400
    I do not agree with this at all
  • commented 2016-03-29 18:53:59 -0400
    how is this suppose to help not only our children but also the people who help our children with what they need to learn! This needs to stop!
  • commented 2016-03-29 15:16:45 -0400
    I am opposed to these changes. This will effectively reduce the quality of care any caregiver could possibly provide! Vyann RECE
  • commented 2016-03-29 13:18:46 -0400
    I disagree with these changes.
  • commented 2016-03-29 12:21:27 -0400
    I don’t agree with the changes. Personally as an ECE and a mother I would hate to see a two year old in the same age group as a 6 year old! The age span is too far apart and you would find more children slipping through the cracks!
    Furthermore I don’t think some children are ready to move into a toddler room at 12 months of age this could be detrimental to a child’s growth. With these proposed changes you are going to see more ECEs struggling to find a stable position and more parents who are struggling to find infant/toddler care in a safe environment. Lowering the ratio and expanding the age gap is no solution.
    I am completely opposed to these changes.

    Cassy Kok. DECE.