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On the teeter-totter: The challenges and opportunities for licensed child care in rural, northern, and remote Ontario

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Ontario Municipal Social Services Association
Publication Date: 
1 May 2011

For several years, there have been concerns about the state of the early learning and child care system in rural, northern, and remote parts of Ontario. The combination of a declining population, insufficient funding, and the more recent introduction of the Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program (FDK) has put stress on the licensed child care systems in these areas. Furthermore, as FDK reaches wider implementation in 2012-13, the impact to rural, northern, and remote child care will be irreversible without intervention or something new happening.

As the professional association for the municipal children's service system managers, OMSSA believes that the crisis is not irreversible. There are, in fact, several concrete and practical solutions that can help rural, northern, and remote child care.

We believe that these solutions are crucial not only to strengthening child care, but to helping the provincial government in its efforts to transform the entire Best Start Child and Family Service System.

This report examines the challenges facing Ontario's rural, northern, and remote child care system and provides a series of concrete solutions to strengthen licensed child care and to help families and communities across rural, northern, and remote areas of the province. Our report has been drawn from the assessment of the Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (DSSABs) and District Social Services Administration Board (DSSABs) who are responsible for managing their local child care service system.

  • More than 8,100 children are at risk of losing their child care, including over 500
    children with special needs.
  • At least 52 rural child care centres have already closed over the past 2 years.
  • Over 200 licensed centres are at immediate risk of closing, with over 600 staff at risk of
    losing their jobs.
  • More than 150 home child care providers are at immediate risk of closing.
  • More than 90 towns and villages across rural and northern Ontario will be left with
    no local licensed child care options.