2022 Pre-Buget Submission
Standing Committee for Finance & Economic Affairs
Chair: Ernie Hardeman, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (Oxford)
c/o Procedural Services Branch
99 Wellesley Street West
Room 1405, Whitney Block
Toronto, ON M7A 1A2
Lori Prospero, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
RisingOaks Early Learning Ontario
January 26, 2022
I am pleased to submit this letter on behalf of RisingOaks Early Learning Ontario as part of your Pre-Budget Consultations. At RisingOaks Early Learning, we have a 40-year history of providing high quality early learning and care. We currently operate 13 licensed child care centres/programs in the Waterloo Region. We have a licensed capacity of over 1,400 spaces. At RisingOaks we build the foundation for learning, at the most pivotal time of a child's growth and development. Preparing them at this stage for a lifetime of learning is the key to their future.
The early learning and child care (ELCC) sector is in crisis - exacerbated by COVID-19. The sector is at its breaking point with staffing vacancies taking months to fill and staff off due to COVID-19. The band-aid solution is temporary program closures, longer waiting lists and mixing cohorts leading to greater spread of COVID-19. It doesn't have to be this way.
We support an early learning and child care system that:
- responds to a child's human right to high quality early learning programs based on Ontario's pedagogy, How Does Learning Happen,
- is accessible and affordable for Ontario families,
- addresses the current workforce crisis, with a focus on retention and recruitment in the ELCC workforce through professional pay and decent working conditions.
- ensure sustainable growth of child care spaces within a public and non-profit system.
In order to protect the progress made against COVID-19 and to make Ontario the best place to live, build a career, family and a future, we implore the Ontario government to include the following in its 2022 Budget:
- A Canada-Ontario $10 a day Child Care Agreement that provides operational funding to child care operators to:
- reduce parent fees by 50% by June 30, 2022
- ensure that any future plans to reduce fees to an average of $10 a day includes ongoing support to reduce childhood poverty for those who pay less than $10 a day in the current system.
- Increase core operating funding by $5/hour per FTE with a condition that all ECE base salaries are increased by $5/hour. Reallocate the existing wage enhancement grant for this purpose.
- Address the Workforce Crisis in Child Care
- Increase financial support to licensed child care programs to ensure recruitment and retention of qualified staff
- the provision of daily, collaborative, on-site paid planning time for centre-based programs and a community-driven model to connect and support licensed home child care providers;
- Provide new funding for COVID-19 supports in the child care sector to:
- Cover loss of revenue from parent fees when families are isolating due to COVID-19.
- Provide an ongoing supply of rapid antigen tests for symptomatic testing that does not require staff to break 5-packs down into smaller bundles
- Reinstate eligibility for publicly-funded PCR tests to include children, families, Early Childhood Educators, child care providers and staff;
- Recommence COVID-19 case reporting in the child care sector;
- Provide 10 permanent paid sick days to support child care workers and families with mandatory isolation periods;
- Provide capital funding to adequately expand child care spaces, with funding commitments between the Ontario government, school board and child care operator for first-time furniture and equipment.
- To prohibit the school boards from charging rent to child care operators
- To reduce administrative burden in child care - fueled by direct input from child care operators.
The 2022 Budget is an opportunity for the Ontario government to declare that a high-quality, affordable and well-funded child care system will set the foundation for all other policy initiatives. Afterall, everyone depends on someone who depends on child care.
Lori Prospero, CAE
Chief Executive Officer