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Ontario will use $97 million in new federal daycare cash to boost wages, subsidize staff training and permanently fund 7,000 new spaces that have opened since last fall, provincial Children's Minister Mary Anne Chambers said yesterday.
Chambers will make an official announcement later this month about how Ontario will use federal money earmarked for daycare in last February's budget.
But the minister, who has been stung in recent weeks by a Toronto Star investigation into health and safety violations in some provincially regulated daycares, said she is speaking out now to remove any doubt that Ontario is serious about quality and is ready to act.
"There's no question the government wants to improve quality," she said in an interview. "I have an announcement pending with very specific designated dollars for wage enhancements ... and training."
A provincially commissioned report on daycare quality released this week said low wages and a lack of skills among the 60 per cent of Ontario workers without college diplomas in early learning are putting child-care quality at risk.
In addition to reducing parent fees to no more than 25 per cent of daycare costs, the report calls for new program standards and immediate investments in worker training and wages. It also recommends college-trained daycare workers should earn about $40,000 rather than current average of $23,000. Chambers wouldn't reveal how much she'll boost wages, but said "it's a pretty decent first step."
The chair of the expert panel who wrote the quality report said she is "delighted" Chambers is acting.
"I look forward to further discussions with her and to further announcements in line with our many recommendations," said University of Guelph family relations professor Donna Lero.
- reprinted from the Toronto Star