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 2016-03-23 00:53:30 -0400
    RECE, parent
  • commented 2016-03-22 13:39:39 -0400
    Spring Hill RECE
  • commented 2016-03-22 13:11:31 -0400
    Concerned how this will impact our not-for-profit childcare at Inspiring Minds Early Learning Centre in Wellesley ON. David Henderson President & Board Member.
  • commented 2016-03-22 09:52:34 -0400
    Rasha Mourtada, parent
  • commented 2016-03-20 22:27:34 -0400
    Nicole Appleton RECE
  • commented 2016-03-20 16:47:32 -0400
    Sophia Sajid, RECE
  • commented 2016-03-20 16:46:22 -0400
    It will bring down the quality of care
  • commented 2016-03-20 12:35:12 -0400
    Colton Hoekstra opposed to this change in childcare
  • commented 2016-03-19 14:59:11 -0400
    Dennielle Lacroix , RECE
  • commented 2016-03-18 23:06:22 -0400
    Pauline McKay, parent and ECE apprentice
  • commented 2016-03-18 22:44:12 -0400
    Do you have any idea the direct conflict this proposal places any RECE in as he/she works on a daily basis? It goes against any pedagogical study that we spend years dedicating ourselves to learning while in college, gaining professional development, and strengthening through our own reflective practice. This proposal will only further erode moral within our child care sector, and therefore threaten quality care. Early learners, families, and professionals deserve the experience of growing in learning environments that support best practice and developmentally appropriate practice. Please give us the tools we need to make children’s learning visible to others in authentic, meaningful ways. Enough.
    Shelly McDonald, RECE Toddler Room Orangeville Ontario
  • commented 2016-03-18 18:26:53 -0400
    I STRONGLY OPPOSE!
  • commented 2016-03-18 16:50:43 -0400
    Jodi Corbett, RECE
  • commented 2016-03-18 09:18:34 -0400
    Karen Manning
  • commented 2016-03-17 21:20:43 -0400
    Brenda Walkoski RECE, AECEO. C Supervisor of Schoolhouse Playcare Centre Thunder Bay, ON!
  • commented 2016-03-17 19:50:58 -0400
    Not the way to go .. Once again the government focuses on the wrong aspect of a system to change.
    Instead of doing what’s right and focusing on increasing support with more quality staff, they play a numbers game trying to shuffle ratios to preserve the bottom line.

    But as always you are misguided because the bottom line should never mean money … The bottom line especially with childcare should ALWAYS be the quality of care.

    Shame on on you

    Jerome Adamo RECE
  • commented 2016-03-17 19:36:32 -0400
    These proposed changes are enraging. Anyone who has ever worked in the ECEC sector knows that a 12-month-old and an 18-month-old are NOWHERE near the same developmental level. Most infants are not even 100% steady on their feet at 12 months and you want them to be in the same room as toddlers who are running around?! You will be endangering many children if this proposal is made a reality.

    Education Minister Liz Sandals said in a written statement: “The proposed changes to age grouping, ratios, group size and staff qualifications will strengthen quality, increase access and reflect the feedback we received from childcare licensees.”

    WHAT FEEDBACK? Because all I see, hear, and read are people everywhere OPPOSING these proposed changes. Please rethink your proposal, for the sake of RECES and all child care providers, parents, and especially the children.

    Pauline Lee, RECE and Montessori Early Childhood Teacher in training
  • commented 2016-03-17 19:34:39 -0400
    Please reconsider these changes! This policy is not reflective of a government that seems so intent on improving the welfare of families in this province.
  • commented 2016-03-17 18:51:29 -0400
    Studies show ratios affect quality! Younger children in a bigger group with less adults not good for the child…or the educator.
  • commented 2016-03-17 18:33:34 -0400
    Not is not in the best interest of the children
  • commented 2016-03-17 17:39:57 -0400
    I am opposed to the proposed changes. These changes compromise the safety of very young children.
  • commented 2016-03-17 15:12:16 -0400
    I am opposed.
  • commented 2016-03-17 14:48:17 -0400
    I am really not comfortable having my two year old in a classroom with five year olds, especially not with a higher teacher to student ratio.
  • commented 2016-03-17 14:37:30 -0400
    I am opposed to the proposed changed
  • commented 2016-03-17 14:19:16 -0400
    I am a concerned parent and do not agree with these proposed changes. This is not the correct or logical way for the government to cover the costs of their initiative for full day kindergarten.
  • commented 2016-03-17 14:14:05 -0400
    Leanne Holland Brown, concerned parent and educator
  • commented 2016-03-17 13:59:31 -0400
    Melanie Kloet, Teacher and parent
  • commented 2016-03-17 13:26:13 -0400
    Kirsty Pazek-Smith + Andrew Smith, parents to 4-year-old in Toronto in Bowmore Daycare – please stop and consult with the sector. I understand that you need to deal with the staggering costs of full day kindergarten. I wish I had the solution – but if you could consult more widely we must as a society be able to come up with a solution that doesn’t but our young people at risk.
  • commented 2016-03-17 12:56:49 -0400
    Carmen Comtois RECE
  • commented 2016-03-17 12:41:30 -0400
    Rachel Mannen, RECE, Vaughan, ON.