WINDSOR, ONTARIO – Worried families, nursery operators and child care professionals joined forces today with Windsor-area elected representatives to demand that the provincial government re-think harmful changes to the regulations that govern licensed child care standards in Ontario.
The issue has brought together parents, employers and union representatives, who were joined by Lisa Gretzky, MPP for Windsor West, and Cheryl Hardcastle, MP for Windsor-Tecumseh, at the Lauzon Road location of ABC Day Nursery of Windsor. Together the group outlined the various ways that they fear changes to regulation will hurt child care:
- Parents are concerned that changes to age ratios will see 12- to 18-month-olds cared for alongside toddlers up to 2 years of age, with potentially dangerous consequences for younger children’s safety.
- Registered early childhood educators (RECEs) worry that the new regulations ignore the best advice from research and pedagogical experts about with child age groups are best placed together for optimal growth and development.
- Centre operators point out that the loss of 12- to 18-month-olds from the infant group will leave too few children in the remaining programs, which will be forced to shut down; this will leave less choice for parents who don’t have access to paid parental leave (e.g. students, self-employed, people in low-paid or precarious jobs).
Rally organizers also used the occasion to gather signatures on a province-wide petition that MPP Lisa Gretzky will submit to the Ontario legislature next week.
Speakers at today’s rally were vocal in their opposition to the changes in regulations.
“As a union representative, I am outraged that the government would put the youngest learners of society into higher ratios that could potentially slow their development. It also creates a dangerous environment for RECEs to work in,” said Kim Gilbert, CUPE Ontario Social Services Committee Child Care representative.
“If these changes are implemented the effects would be detrimental to child care in Ontario. We will no longer be able to provide safe, affordable, quality child care and our little ones will be put at risk. They will be the ones paying the price,” stated Alicia De La Hamaide, RECE and creator of the petition.
The provincial government has proposed changes to current regulations governing standards for child care for infants and toddlers. Unlike legislation, regulatory proposals can be made by the government in power following a 45 day comment period; the period for these proposals ends April 1.
“The message to government is, yes, create new spaces, but don’t create new spaces by changing the rules for ages or changing group sizes. These regulations will bring more children with less support,” said Gilbert.
More information about the changes are available at http://www.childcareontario.org/ontario_s_proposed_regulation_changes; copies of the petition are available from email@example.com.
Mary Unan, CUPE Communications
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