Ontario Takes Action to Support Working Families and Improve Child CarePublished on February 26, 2021
The Ontario government announced regulatory amendments that support working families and improve the child care and early years sector and advance the province's dual priorities of accessibility and affordability for parents.
Details were provided today by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education and Donna Skelly, MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook.
"The changes we are announcing today are important as they will help ensure working parents can return to the workforce as we make progress containing the pandemic," said Minister Lecce. "We are making child care more affordable for parents, improving safety for children, and reducing red tape for child care operators. Our government appreciates the challenges families are facing these days and we are committed to doing everything we can to reduce their burden."
The regulatory amendments, which take effect on March 8, 2021, will:
- Exempt certain authorized recreational providers from their three-hour operating limit, improving access to select before and after school programs for families with school-age children.
- Enhance health and safety protections in licenced child care settings, such as requirements to support contact tracing by local public health, new requirements for home-based child care and updates to the safe storage of potentially poisonous and hazardous items.
- Reduce regulatory/administrative burden on child care operators by removing redundant and unnecessary requirements for all providers. These include the removal of duplicate requirements related to the collection of children's emergency contact information, allowing records and documents required by the regulation to be kept in digital format, and no longer requiring licensees to seek ministry approval for children 44 months and up to bring their own meals from home.
These changes are based on feedback from families and the early years and child care sector, as outlined in the Strengthening Early Years and Child Care in Ontario report, and the long-standing advocacy of community based non-profit organizations delivering before and after school programs.
The Ontario government recognizes the contributions of early childhood educators, child care workers and providers who continue to deliver care for children across the province, especially during the pandemic. Of the approximately $4.5 billion spent on the delivery of child care in Ontario, about 2.5 per cent is funded by the federal government and remainder by the province, municipalities and parents.
By expanding access to before and after school programs, Ontario is promoting more child care options for working parents who maintain early, late, or irregular hours, or reside in communities with limited access to child care. With these amendments we are ensuring that Ontario remains a leader in supporting working families.
"Child care is critical to restarting the economy as more parents, especially mothers, return to work. We know women took on additional care giving responsibilities throughout the pandemic. Our government is determined not to leave women behind. These changes are a step in the right direction and will have a positive impact to get more women into the workforce."
- Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues
"By enhancing health and safety requirements, parents can be assured that their children are protected. Expanding child care options will make life easier for working families as the economy begins to reopen."
- Donna Skelly, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
"The Home Child Care Association of Ontario (HCCAO) strongly supports the government's reforms because they will cut unnecessary red tape for Home Child Care Agencies and Providers without impacting the health, safety or quality of the care provided. The Home Child Care Association thanks the government for listening and introducing meaningful changes that will help us focus on what we do best: providing excellent, flexible and affordable home child care for children and families in communities throughout Ontario."
- Kim Hiscott, Co-Chair, Home Child Care Association of Ontario
"Today's announcement is good news for families and child care providers alike. Today's Family supports the changes introduced by the Government of Ontario because they will make high-quality early learning and child care more accessible for families."
- Marni Flaherty, CEO, Today's Family
"Boys and Girls Clubs have seen firsthand the limits of the three-hour rule and its impact on Ontario families. The regulatory amendments under the Child Care and Early Years Act that exempt certain authorized recreation providers from the three-hour rule will remove financial and emotional strain and provide more options for quality, affordable, and safe before and after school care. Putting families first is critical as we grapple with COVID-19 and look to equitable recovery."
- Owen Charters, President & CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
"Ontario YMCAs would like to applaud the exceptional commitment and resilience of our child care professionals throughout COVID. We are encouraged by the regulatory changes presented today that improve the health and safety of the children and staff in our essential child care programs. Never before has the need for health and safety been so critical. These improvements, coupled with efforts to reduce administrative burden, will allow our child care teams to focus on what's most important - delivering high quality early childhood education to all of the children, families and communities we serve."
- Linda Cottes, RECE, Senior Vice President of Child and Family Development, YMCA of Greater Toronto Chair, YMCA Ontario Advisory Group
- The Ministry may consider broadening the three-hour exemption to additional authorized recreational providers after the first phase of implementation, which is limited to 5,000 spaces across the province.
- The Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA) came into effect on August 31, 2015. The CCEYA mandates that a review of the Act must be completed within five years of the legislation coming into force.
- To inform the review of the CCEYA, the ministry consulted publicly through a families/caregivers survey, which received more than 11,000 responses, and a sector survey, which received more than 4,000 responses. The ministry also received formal written submissions from over 40 sector organizations.
- As part of the five-year review of the CCEYA, a public report was shared on October 2, 2020, which summarized the feedback received from families and sector partners and the Ministry of Education’s own findings.
- The ministry consulted on specific regulatory amendments between October 2 and November 20, 2020, on the Ontario Regulatory Registry, receiving more than 460 submissions.
- In addition to the regulatory amendments announced today, based on feedback, the remaining regulatory proposals that were included in the Fall 2020 consultation will be considered at a later date.
- Since June 2020, about 96 per cent of child care centres and 95 per cent of home child care agencies have reopened following the COVID-related closure. This includes 5,264 child care centres and 129 home child care agencies.