Ontario's Child Care Priorities Ignores the Needs of Children with Separated Parents

The Ontario government has proposed changes to the legislation regulating child care programs in the Province.

The changes are completely silent on one of the primary gaps in servicing children, and high risk children in particular - namely children with two homes.

The Fair Parenting Project made the following submissions on November 18, 2014 to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.

The proposed legislation is at http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=3002

 

The submissions:

 

November 18, 2014

 

Valerie Quioc Lim

Clerk of the Standing Committee on Social Policy

Room 1405, Whitney Block

Queen's Park, Toronto, ON  M7A 1A2

vquioc@ola.org

 

 

Dear Valerie Quioc Lim

 

Re:                  Bill 10, An Act to enact the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, to repeal the Day Nurseries Act, to amend the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007, the Education Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts

 

Below are the submissions of the Fair Parenting Project respecting Bill 10 and the opportunity to address deficiencies in Ontario’s child care system respecting systemic discrimination targeting children with two homes and their families.

Current State of Ontario’s Child Care and Early Years Programs Respecting Accessibility for Children with two Homes in Ontario

Currently in Ontario a significant number of children are in a demographic group which faces discrimination because of their family status; being children with two homes, or parents who live separately.

Many Ontario child care providers, and most unionized childcare facilities, refuse to accommodate these children despite the Ontario Human Rights Code prohibiting discrimination based upon family status.

Three of the primary ways in which they are discriminated against by child care providers are:

1.    Failing to accommodate a child’s living conditions by refusing to provide part-time or half-time placements;

2.    Refusing to provide split receipts to each of a child’s parents who pay for the child care; and

3.    Refusing to provide communications to both of a child’s homes in a timely and reliable manner.

 

This discrimination forces the affected children, and their parents, to face a number of hurdles in obtaining child care. This includes:

1.    Less options and choice in available care;

2.    In ability to participate in publicly funded and unionized childcare facilities;

3.    Difficulties with the Canada Revenue Agency when receipts are not produced in both the payor parent’s name;

4.    Conflict between the parents caused by the scarce childcare created by the discriminatory policies.

These hurdles can be directly linked to long term negative outcomes in children. Often times, parents have faster and more available recourse by litigating against each other in Family Court than taking a daycare provider to task with the Human Rights Tribunal Ontario.

Negative outcomes for children are as much, if not more, more determined, by family status, as they are from race, gender or poverty. This discrimination also adversely impacts the children’s parents.

To address this issue, the Fair Parenting Project has set-up a database of child care providers who are willing to take children on a part-time basis or half-time basis in accordance to the standardized, best practices based Fair Parenting Plan.

There are over 3600 spots dedicated to these children in Eastern Ontario and more than 5000 across the province. There are currently no unionized environments willing to join the Fair Parenting database and provide half-time places to accommodate children with two homes.

In investigating this trend with the City of Ottawa’s municipally operated child care facilities, we were informed that they decided against providing half-time placement based upon concerns from the union that having two children share a daycare spot would increase the administrative requirements of the daycare staff and their collective agreements do not provide for any further paid administrative time.

Bill 10

Bill 10 has the opportunity to address and alleviate these issues if it is amended as follows:

Provincial Interest- Section  49

Section 49 of the proposed Bill 10 lays out requirements for child care and early years programs to act in manner consistent with what is defined as the “provincial interest”. Conspicuously absent is any mention of integrating children the two homes within Ontario’s child care and early years system.

While shocking, this is not surprising as the current government has also consciously ignored these children, and their families, in other areas.  For instance, in 2012 there was an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling that school bus services must provide equal service to both homes of children with separated parents (subject to standard geographic requirements).  Despite this ruling and subsequent human rights matters before the HRTO, the Minister of Education is still in (2014) forcing these children to take each of the offending school boards and school transportation authorities to the HRTO in separate actions instead of implementing a province wide solution This is an affront to the purpose of human rights legislation and a tremendous waste of resources for school board lawyers, HRTO and the impacted families.

The same result will occur within the child care industry if systemic discrimination is not remedied within Bill 10.

Section 49 should include as an Ontario priority, integrating children with two homes into the province’s child care and early years system. Specifically, child care and early years providers should be required to demonstrate how they intend to accommodate children with two homes in a manner consistent with the Ontario Human Rights Code to obtain a license. Daycare providers of a given size should also be required to provide a quota of part-time and/or half-time placements to accommodate children with two homes.

Receipts Section 15

This new legislation should specify that daycare providers must provide receipts to the person paying all, or a portion of, a fee.  The current wording is ambiguous.

Communication with Parents

A provision should be mandated within Bill 10 requiring child care and early years providers to implement a system to communicate with all parents of children in a timely and reliable manner.

The Fair Parenting Project is active at developing and implementing community solutions to integrate children with two homes into their community. Please contact me if you would like further information on the Fair Parenting Project or the issues presented in this submission.

 

(Image courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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