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Childcare community asks: What have we done to deserve this?!

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GUEST POST BY ADVOCATES FOR PROGRESSIVE CHILD CARE POLICY:

Advocates for Progressive Childcare Policy logo

We’re Advocates for Progressive Childcare Policy (APCP) and we organized our first event last night.

It was a bit risky: a public forum to discuss Ontario’s childcare regulations. Who would possibly come out to an event on a subject as dry as childcare regulations? Even brussel sprouts have a more exciting reputation these days.

But people did come out. In droves! The room was at capacity and the energy was amazing.

Why? Because Ontario’s proposed childcare regulations were the last straw. And that bundle of straw is pretty huge!

Many people in the childcare community welcomed most aspects of the childcare legislation Ontario announced last year, which promised to crack down on illegal childcare and beef-up enforcement.

But just as we thought things were changing for the better, the province proposed regulations that would put babies and toddlers into larger groups with fewer staff. The new regulations would threaten quality for our youngest children. The new regulations would also put tremendous pressure on the early childhood educators – in a field that is already challenged to recruit and retain well-qualified staff.

As Jane Mercer from the Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care put it, people in the childcare field have been jerked around for long enough. What have we done to deserve this latest assault?!

We understand that these regulation changes, which were dumped on the field right before Christmas with a one-way comment process, are just a symptom of a larger problem. There is still no national childcare system in Canada.

The federal government is too busy trying to do the income splits (or not) to do anything about childcare. They dribble out cash one Useless Child Care Benefit (UCCB) cheque at a time, rather than building the childcare system that Canadian families need.

Meanwhile the provinces are strapped for cash. How exactly do you expand child care spaces without putting any more money into it? On the backs of early childhood educators and children, that’s how.

The people in that room last night were thirsty for information, thirsty for answers, and thirsty for change – change in the way the Ontario government is not consulting us on these regulations, certainly.

But also thirsty for real change in the way our field is treated both provincially and federally.  

You can bet the people in that room will bring their energy to Toronto’s International Women’s Day rally this year as they vowed to do.  We’ll keep pushing the Ontario government to back away from these regulation changes and instead put significant money for childcare in the provincial budget and get down to the real work of improving childcare across the province.  An open letter to Education Minister Liz Sandals was circulating last night.

We’ll also bring that energy to the national child care policy conference that is being organized in Winnipeg for November. 

We know that standing up for a system and for ECEs is standing up for the children and families we care about.

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