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Dear Editor

Affordable child care is a major contributor to economic growth enabling more parents to return to work. That’s a good thing and all centres welcome this plan for that reason. But what will it cost?

The Ontario government rolled out their long awaited Guideline Addendum on April 29 to centres and Municipalities,  having identified childcare as a national priority to enhance early learning and childhood development, support workforce participation and contribute to economic recovery. This 72 page document details the regulations on signing into an agreement with the government to enable centres to offer vastly reduced fees to parents.

By signing the contract, centres will have to abide by stringent budgetary controls with expenditure approved or not approved, by the municipal body. All centres will be bound by “base fees” capped at an average for the area. Current fees are “grandfathered” at the moment but any expansion including adding another group or classroom of children must be capped. In most cases this is a much lower rate than centres are currently charging. Would it then be a viable option for centres to expand or new centres open? How does this create more child care spaces?

With the waiting list for child care places growing and more parents able to return to work with affordable child care in place, where are these places coming from?

The government vision is perhaps standardised extra large centres focused on low costs, standard care and reduced curriculum. Choice for parents? Perhaps that doesn’t matter as the government is funding the program? National standardized childcare for all.

It’s also important to know that the government’s promise to increase RECE (Registered Early Childhood Educator) wages will also not materialise. The amount they are raising the hourly wage to is much lower than the majority of RECEs are being paid now and so no compensation would go to centres for the RECE wages. This will not encourage more students into the ECE program and therefore there will continue to be staff shortages. How can we create more child care spaces with no qualified staff?

$18m is being allocated to municipalities to administer funding allocation, reporting and determining if centres expenditures are deemed “reasonable” and therefore worthy of funding. The taxpayer needs to know that systems are already in place that could have been expanded to cover this plan but these are whole new systems sitting completely separately. Perhaps the government needs to look at some private businesses to see how not to duplicate workload and costs?

The majority of private owner operated centres are women entrepreneurs who are now being asked to put their business in the hands of the government. Many of these owners are so committed to their childcare families that they are considering doing this to support lower childcare fees but see a very different child care model in their future. Many not-for-profit centres are also struggling to know how they can expand and keep standards high whilst struggling to attract qualified staff into the sector.

My ask to you all, is be gentle with centres still grappling with giving over control of their childcare centres to the government and be understanding to those who are questioning “opting in” at this time. Many have to make the choice of viability, even closure or lowering the standard of service they offer parents and children . Thank you

Carron Standoloft - Owner of Queen of Hearts Nursery Schools



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