Election 2007: Addressing the Crisis in Early Learning and Child Care

    TORONTO, Oct. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Advocates are demanding that proposed
full-day kindergarten must be backed up by a strong early learning and child
care system for all children, from infants to 12-year-olds. The pressures on
current child care programs are so acute that the next government must address
the crisis in child care.
    Signs of the crisis are the explosion of waiting lists: the waiting list
for subsidized child care in Toronto is over 12,000 children and has grown by
40% in the past year. In addition, low wages mean that trained staff are
leaving the sector. The majority of students trained as Early Childhood
Educators do not enter, or stay, in the field.
    "Full-day preschool programs begin to address one piece in the
development of an early learning and care system," commented Elizabeth Ablett,
Executive Director of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care in Toronto.
"The next government will need work with all the early learning programs if we
are to move from the current patchwork of services to a system where all
Ontario children can access, and afford, a high-quality early learning and
child care program."
    In this election campaign, the Liberal and NDP Parties have both promised
a new pre-school, or kindergarten program for 4- and 5-year-old children. The
program is a substantial investment in the 4- and 5-year-old age group and a
recognition of the importance of the early years in child development. An open
letter to party leaders shows broad support for early learning programs.
    The Progressive Conservatives have made no commitments for new funding
for child care programs, which stands in sharp contrast to the policies
advanced by the Liberal and NDP parties.
    "What child care needs is a commitment to stable, ongoing funding and a
plan to meet the growing needs," said Toronto City Councillor Janet Davis.
"It's not good enough for the province to pass on federal money or to provide
stop-gap funding. In our city and across the province, waiting lists have
reached historic highs, and the demand for high-quality, affordable child care
continues to grow. Something has to change".

For further information:

For further information: Elizabeth Ablett, Executive Director, OCBCC,
(416) 538-0628 Ext. 3; Andrea Calver, Government and Communications Director,
OCBCC, (416) 434-8031

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Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

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