March 25, 2020
Honourable Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development
Honourable Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care
We want to express our profound appreciation for your efforts to address the current unprecedented challenges facing our community and the child care sector in particular. Today, we are writing to ensure that you have a full understanding of our growing concerns about government’s child care actions to date and to provide our best advice on next steps forward.
As you know, we have asked for a rationale for the Provincial Health Officer’s direction to close schools yet allow child care programs to remain open, as this differs significantly from the approach taken in most provinces. We understand that Dr. Henry advised all parents who can to care for their children at home. She also recognized that while some programs may close, child care services can and must be provided in a safe manner for those families whose parents work in critical roles. We agree that child care is essential to meet this need.
Yet, there is still no provincial plan in place to ensure that open programs are meeting the needs of essential workers. The decision whether or not to stay open, work in or attend child care remains with individual child care providers, educators and families.
Building on the recent recognition that child care is indeed an essential service, we advised government to take effective measures, as other provinces have, to:
- Close all programs to regular users, while maintaining educator wages, ensuring families are not required to pay fees for services they can’t access, and compensating programs appropriately for the loss of income
- Designate essential workers
- Assess the child care needs of essential workers, and
- Open a limited number child care programs to meet those needs, with full funding to support additional health and safety measures, maintain educator wages and provide care at no charge to designated essential workers.