Kathleen Wynne: Ford government directive to open child care centres won’t work

Child care providers across Ontario have rightly reacted with concern to the government’s announcement yesterday that child care centres will be allowed to re-open on Friday.

They had expected that they would be given a longer lead time, that their recommendations would have been followed and that the government would have understood that new safety and staffing requirements would mean financial support.

Instead, they have been told to increase safety and screening protocols, increase staffing, in some cases find additional space without additional funding and within three days.

The government is counting on many parents simply not returning their children to child care.

But if that is the case, how can businesses actually open without those workers and how can child cares continue to operate without full enrolment especially if the government refuses to
provide adequate funding for these extraordinary circumstances.

What the Minister and the Premier laid out yesterday was not a plan. It was not even a thoughtful directive. It was an unrealistic, ill-considered instruction that is bound to fail.

Child care providers, parents and educators are willing to work with this government to ensure the safety of our most precious resource, our children. But if advice is not sought and if sought, not heeded, then children’s needs will not be met.

And if this is the way the government mismanages the re-opening of child care centres, how is it proposing to develop a plan for the re-opening of nearly 5,000 publicly funded schools?

In these unprecedented times, we need the government to work more closely with child care and education partners. On child care the government should go back to providers and parents and re-vamp its plan. On education, we need to see a table of all the partners working together to develop a plan that can actually work.

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