Local 79 Submission to Province on Proposals to Amend the Day Nurseries Act

Child Care Modernization

c/o Early Years Division, Ministry of Education

To Whom It May Concern:

RE:     Proposals to Amend Regulation 262 under the Day Nurseries Act – Child Care Modernization Document

Many members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79 work in the City of Toronto’s directly-operated child care centres. 

On behalf of CUPE Local 79’s 20,000 members working at the City of Toronto, Bridgepoint Hospital and the Toronto Community Housing Corporation I would like to provide input on the proposed amendments to the Day Nurseries Act.  Nothing could be more important than providing the best start in life for our children. We must get this right.

Our members are child care workers, parents, guardians, caregivers and part of Toronto’s many diverse communities who care about the quality of public services – especially child care.

In the fall of 2012, CUPE Local 79 shared our thoughts and concerns on the Ministry of Education discussion paper, Modernizing Child Care in Ontario. The goal of the discussion paper was to stabilize child care throughout Ontario without sacrificing the quality of care for our youngest citizens.

Parents in every city and town across Ontario have said that their main concern in selecting a child care centre is quality. Simply having a child care license only means that the centre has met a minimum standard of care – it doesn’t guarantee quality. The City of Toronto has become a renowned leader in child care because of the quality of its services. The City’s Operating Criteria sets the gold standard in the child care sector. 

The City’s directly-operated centres give parents with special needs children a quality and professional option for their care. The Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act is now the law in Ontario and this enhances the obligations of child care centres to meet the requirements of children with special needs.

Our initial concern in “Modernizing the Legislative and Regulatory Framework” were changes planned for the Day Nurseries Act. CUPE Local 79 has concerns about changing ratios, age group changes, nutrition, and the complexities of aligning child care with full day kindergarten.  The word being used for these proposed changes is ‘flexibility’. Flexibility is not inherently a bad thing, but if it means higher ratios of children in the care of Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) it will have a direct and detrimental effect on quality.

Any proposals on modernizing child care in Ontario must be focused on raising the bar on quality indicators such as group size, child-staff ratios, RECE requirements, and play-based learning environments. Having more infants, toddlers, and older children cared for by fewer professionals is not the way to build a safe, quality child care sector. 

Yours truly,

Tim Maguire, President

Cc:       Kathleen Wynne, Premier

            Hon. Liz Sandals, Minister of Education

            Elaine Baxter-Trahair, General Manager, Children’s Services, City of Toronto