TORONTO: The Ontario government has 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 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 licensed 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 longstanding 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 the remainder by the province, municipalities and parents.
By expanding access to before and after school programs, Ontario is promoting more child care options for 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.
Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, said: “Child care is critical to restarting the economy as more parents, especially mothers, return to work. We know women took on additional caregiving responsibilities throughout the pandemic. Our government is determined not to leave women behind. .”
Donna Skelly said: “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.”