A Universal Child Care System with Decent Work at its Core Must be the Goal of Ontario’s Review of the Child Care and Early Years Act

Joint Statement from the Professional Pay and Decent Work Project

It is a critical time for early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Ontario. Across the sector educators, operators, families, and allies are calling for change. The mandated 5-year review of the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) must be an opportunity to ensure that we do not go backwards, or further entrench a fragmented, market approach to vital ECEC programs. The province has allowed a short turnaround time for the public to respond. Deadline for written submissions are July 31, 2020. Letters and submissions should be sent to cceya_consultation@ontario.ca.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made public the failures of a market model approach in organizing and delivering ECEC programs. Where programs have adapted and responded to the pandemic, they have done so in spite of the failures of the system. The gaps and inequities that result from our current patchwork are not new, but they have become more visible as the pandemic drew attention to the lack of infrastructure to support ECEC programs.

Ontario must not be complacent about the CCEYA review. Ontario´s legislated quality standards and supports lag behind most other Canadian jurisdictions (see attached). A modern early years act is needed, one that reflects children´s entitlement to quality programs regardless of their unique abilities, cultural or ethnic origins, or family income. Parent fees would be eliminated. Regulations backed with sufficient resources would support the early childhood workforce with decent pay and working conditions.

Ontario´s market system is failing children, families, early childhood educators and early years staff as it continues to download responsibility to individual operators, educators and families without proper systems of support. To capitalize on this opportunity for change, we must see strengthened provincial legislation alongside a significant increase in both federal and provincial resources guided by a national framework that lays the groundwork for quality ECEC as an entitlement for all Canada´s children. We must ensure that any legislative change moves us towards a universally accessible, publicly funded and managed ECEC system with decent work for early childhood educators and early years staff at the core.

Educators are key to providing high-quality experiences for children. But underfunding, poor oversight and the lack of decent work in licensed child care create challenging conditions. Far from being a legislative leader in promoting quality early learning and care, Ontario´s standards lag behind those of other Canadian jurisdictions. Now is the time to strengthen, not downgrade quality in Ontaro's child care legislation.

Download the full statement.