In an exclusive interview with the BBC earlier this year, Labour Minister and Minister Responsible for Early Childhood Services Tanya Park said Ontario was at “a disadvantage when it comes to exploring working agreements and agreements with other jurisdictions”. She described the disparity as “unacceptable”.
How would it be so? Because Labour Minister Tanya Park is, as already pointed out, a cabinet minister representing the Ottawa-Centre riding. She represents territory that is one of Ontario’s biggest. Ottawa-Centre has about 350,000 people. 100,000 of them are children, says Ms Park. The other 200,000 are parents who get on-line child care through the online municipal development plan.
We’ve got to get on with this, Minister, because if we don’t, we’re going to be left with two really odd forms of child care.
That’s roughly what’s on offer now. The two forms are publicly-funded daycare, with about 500 childcare centres that are mostly for small children – those aged 2.5 to 3 years – and privately-run childcare centres for 2.5 to 5 year olds. On-line child care is all public, but there are about 400 registered child care centres and only a quarter of those are accessible to small children.
Right now, there are more than 60,000 children – that’s about 1,300 per care centre – on the wait list for publicly-funded child care. It would be about twice that number if a new, smaller, publicly-funded, on-line child care service was added. It’s available only in part of the province – only in five communities: London and the suburbs of Ottawa and Oshawa, where most of the elderly voters who voted the NDP in the last election live.