Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario sent by e-mail: email@example.com
Hon. Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education sent by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Premier Ford & Minister Lecce,
Friday’s announcement offering emergency child care to more frontline staff was a welcome acknowledgment of the wide range of heroic people who are keeping our society going in this difficult time.
We were pleased to see workers included in areas such as women’s shelters, First Nations constables and child welfare who are often overlooked. We would encourage expansion of this list to include grocery workers, cleaners, public transit workers, taxi drivers, telecommunications workers, and other critical supply chain workers.
We support the government’s commitment to working with First Nations to implement emergency child care centres in communities across the province. This commitment will improve the chances of culturally appropriate care. We would also encourage consultation with child care experts such as the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.
Ontarians continue to recognize the important work of frontline workers. We also want to extend our deep gratitude to all the educators and staff who are working hard to provide emergency child care services for these frontline workers in their communities.
We know that emergency child care services can only be provided with robust health and safety support and protections and we encourage continued action on this front. This positive step of expanding emergency child care services must be placed in the context of a very fragile system of child care. We urge the government to adopt the calls to action from the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care to ensure that the system does not collapse and that we have this important service available as Ontario workers return to work in greater numbers. These actions include:
- Ordering the temporary closure of all early learning and child care, including home-based child care with the exception of providing emergency child care to front line workers. Licensed child care centres are now closed but, in the interest of social distancing, home-based child care services should also be closed;
- Arranging emergency funding to closed programs so that staff are paid and parents are not charged fees. Funding child care programs during closure is crucial so that operators can pay staff, not charge parent fees, and avoid financial distress themselves;
- Providing safe, emergency child care for essential service workers similar to the Quebec model by ensuring:
- Child care is provided free of charge;
- Children aged 0-13 years are accepted;
- Government support is provided to ensure the safest provision of care possible.
Friday’s announcement makes it clear that everyone relies on someone who relies on child care. Unifor will continue to advocate for a system that recognizes the value of child care workers and sees their pay and working conditions reflect this value.
UNIFOR ONTARIO REGIONAL DIRECTOR