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Excerpts from report:
The 2004-05 Ontario Alternative Budget advocates new investments of $14.7 billion over four years to address the serious decline in the state of Ontario's public services.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE: BUILDING AN EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE SYSTEM IN ONTARIO
High quality early learning and child care is the foundation for lifelong learning for all children, a fundamental element in reducing poverty, ensuring women's equality, providing equity for children with special needs and fostering social inclusion. While the benefits of early learning and child care (ELC) are widely recognized, Ontario continues to face a severe child care crisis.
There is no coherent system. The supply of child care spaces needed to meet the needs of families with young children has been stagnant since 1995. Child care programs report financial crises, difficulty recruiting and retaining staff, escalating fees and deteriorating physical environments. As a result, many regulated child care programs struggle to deliver "developmental" environments.
The Ontario Alternative Budget's plan proposes the following measures to ensure affordability and expand access to regulated child care:
- fund all existing regulated, non-profit spaces to make it possible to introduce a maximum $5 a day parental contribution;
- add a total of 20,000 new child care spaces;
- provide an additional subsidy envelope to ensure the participation of those families where the $5 contribution remains a barrier to access; and
- fund pay equity measures to contribute to continuing child care quality standards and to ensure the adequate remuneration of early childhood educators.