The Ontario Auditor-General's annual report has found that Ontario's child care "inspection processes and enforcement actions need to be improved to ensure that children are safe."
The Auditor-General's report found:
- Inspections are not done on a timely basis;
- Enforcement of inspection findings needs to be strengthened;
- Criminal reference check practices need review;
- Caseload of program advisors has been increasing;
- Serious occurrence oversight needs improvement.
While Ontario's Ministry of Education has pledged to address these issues and has passed new legislation, more must be done to ensure safety and security and to increase access to high quality child care for children across the province.
In light of the Auditor-General's startling findings, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care is calling on the Ontario government to:
1. Report back on specific improvements made to oversight systems within six months;
2.Make the list of "high-risk" centres that the Auditor-General's report describes available to the public in the interests of public safety;
3.Take immediate action by working with municipalities and non-profit organizations to prevent continued closure or high quality public and non-profit centres;
4. Establish a short-term task force/working group to make recommendations regarding how to keep children in child care safe and secure.
The Auditor-General's report joins the recent Ontario Ombudsman's investigation in providing ample evidence that a better approach to child care is needed in the province. These reports join decades of research on the benefits of high quality child care, as well as evidence that market-based approaches won't build a quality system.
The Ontario government must begin the concerted action that is needed to improve enforcement and to begin to build a comprehensive high quality child care system. The continued need for stringent oversight is tied to our privatized approach to child care. Building a system of high quality public and non-profit child care would ensure not only the safety and security of children, but good care and education experiences for every child in this province.
Founded in 1981, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care advocates for universally accessible, high quality, not-for-profit, regulated child care in the province of Ontario. We are a non-partisan public awareness and advocacy group with broad membership including the education, labour, student and women's and francophone communities.