OTTAWA, Dec. 16, 2014 /CNW/ - Last week the Auditor General of Ontario revealed what the Coalition of Independent Childcare Providers of Ontario (CICPO) believes to be the Ministry of Education's real reason for fast-tracking Bill 10 – The Childcare Modernization Act.
Time allocated at every step despite demands from both opposition parties and the public at large for further consultation on amendments affecting the unlicensed, Independent Childcare Provider (ICP) sector, the Ministry steadfastly refused any action that would delay Bill 10 from passing. Having full knowledge of the contents of the Auditor General's report on licensed childcare – yet to be made public - Education Minister Sandals consistently defended lifting restrictions on licenced care and imposing new restrictions on the legal, unlicensed childcare sector. Lauding what she knew to be a dangerously flawed and inadequate licensed child care system, Sandals persistently argued that ICPs were synonymous with illegal providers, and portrayed ICP care as substandard and in need of immediate reform in order to keep Ontario's children safe.
However, when it comes to unsafe practices in childcare the Auditor General of Ontario points the finger at the licenced industry. Exposing 29,000 serious occurrences, including six deaths, the Auditor General's report supports what CICPO has been stating since September: that legal, unlicensed home childcare has a superior safety record than that of the licensed industry. The reasons for ICPs not to affiliate with licensed home daycare agencies are well-established and have nothing to do with wanting to avoid regulation.
CICPO believes the Auditor General's report also suggests the real reason behind the Ministry's urgency: that once the report became public it would be impossible to defend this Bill, written in consultation with the private, licensed sector, designed to eliminate ICPs from the childcare industry while assisting big box child care operators in privatizing Ontario's childcare.
Bill 10 has received Royal Assent and, unless repealed, loosens ratio restrictions for licensed centres allowing for more children - including infants and toddlers - to be cared for by a single provider than previously. Ratio restrictions on the safer, legal ICP sector have been increased and are already leading to terminations and closures across the Province. In one week CICPO received reports from over 200 providers totalling over 500 spaces lost to Ontario families. In addition, 42 municipally-run centres across Ontario have shut down since last winter due to the Ministry's mishandling of the roll-out of full day kindergarten coupled with inadequate funding. Ontario's childcare crisis has begun.
CICPO continues its fight for every parent's right to safe, accessible and affordable childcare in Ontario through its public awareness campaign and ongoing communication with the Ontario Ombudsman's Office.
SOURCE: Coalition of Independent Childcare Providers of Ontario (CICPO)
For further information: Heidi Higgins, 613-255-1247, URL: cicpo.ca