Parents and Children: Still Waiting for the Promised Child Care Funding



    TORONTO, March 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Parents, child care staff, and child care
advocates called today for the provincial government to finally come through
on its 2003 promise to fund child care.
    "We are still waiting," said Elizabeth Ablett, Executive Director of the
Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. "We're here today, at the site of the
original announcement, to remind the Premier of his pre-election commitment -
a promise that Ontario parents and the child care sector have not forgotten."
    The 2003 funding promise, made at Withrow Child Care Centre in Toronto in
2003, gave a ray of hope to parents, child care programs and advocates after
severe cuts to provincial child care during the Harris-Eves governments.
    Three budgets later, the promised funds have yet to materialize, and
child care programs across the province are facing the very real prospect of
cuts to services, quality and in some cases, closure.
    "Ontario's child care system doesn't have enough child care spaces, and
the spaces that we do have are not affordable for most families," said Sue
Cumming, a member of the Withrow Child Care Centre parent board. "Here at
Withrow Child Care, we made the difficult decision to close our waiting list
because we did not want to give parents in the neighbourhood false hope that
they would be able to get a space. Meanwhile, other programs are struggling to
fill spaces that parents in their communities can't afford. This is a real
crisis."
    Despite this looming crisis, there are no indications as yet that the
Liberal provincial government intends to come through on its promise of
$300 million for the province's early learning and child care system in the
upcoming spring budget. There have been no new provincial investments in early
learning and child care in over ten years.
    An infusion of provincial funding dedicated to early learning and child
care is urgently needed to address:

    
    - Access and affordability for families and long waiting lists for
      children
    - Sustainability of child care programs, and improving their quality
    - A severe shortage of qualified child care professionals, and
      difficulties in recruitment and retention of staff
    

    Existing early learning and child care programs that were established or
recently expanded under Best Start were able to do so because of the federal
funding from the federal-provincial child care agreements. The cancellation of
that funding, and the continuing lack of new provincial funding, mean that
parents will continue to struggle to find affordable, high-quality, non-profit
spaces for their children.
    "The province's Best Start plan is failing to address long-standing
funding shortfalls - a situation made worse by not providing funding beyond
2010 for the 14,000 new Best Start spaces created with federal dollars. This
is creating greater instability and further erosion of quality programs," said
OCBCC President Shellie Bird. "Child care in Ontario is more fragile and
unstable than ever mainly because the provincial government has failed to make
good on its election promise to put more provincial funding into the system,"
said Bird.

    The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) represents the voices
of over 500 members including organizations, agencies, childcare centres, and
individuals across the province advocating for universally accessible, high
quality, non-profit regulated child care in Ontario.




For further information:

For further information: and for parent interview contacts, please call:
Elizabeth Ablett, Executive Director, OCBCC, (416) 538-0628 ext. 3 or cell:
(647) 291-7557

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Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

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