By Salina Sunderland
Your first question is probably “What is Bill 10?” perhaps followed by “Ugh…politics…not interested!” But before you skip by this post in favour of something more exciting and glamorous, let me fill you in on why you should be very concerned with this bill as a parent of young children.
Bill 10, the Childcare Modernization Act, is a bill that has been introduced by the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, in the name of making your child’s daycare safer and better whether you have your child in a daycare centre, in an agency affiliated home daycare, or a private home daycare. Here are some highlights as pertain to private home daycare (there are changes for daycare centres and agency home daycares as well that I won’t go into here):
1) Currently, a private home daycare provider may have 5 daycare children at any one time in addition to her own children of any ages.
Bill 10 would force the provider to count her own children under the age of 6 in her total of 5 kids, even though her children are most likely in school full-time at the age of 4.
2) Currently there are no age ratio restrictions for private caregivers and it is left to a daycare providers own discretion as to which ages to accept into her/his daycare depending on the caregivers own abilities, strengths, and programming. Bill 10 would make it so that private home daycares would be allowed no more than 2 kids under the age of 2.
Now, you might be saying “This is great! My kids will be safer!” However, considering that 80% of children in Ontario are cared for in unlicensed home daycares, this bill has the potential to severely disrupt childcare availability and rates. As a private home daycare provider, I receive many enquiries for care every month. 99% of those enquiries are for babies around the 12 month mark when their moms or dads return to work. Considering children now start school full-time at 3.5-4 years of age, we are left with children aged 1-3 to care for. Many of us actually prefer having a group of little ones close in age as they grow and learn together and it is much easier to cater to their needs when they are all in a similar stage.
If this bill is put into law, many home daycare providers will be forced to close as they will not be able to survive on the 2-3 kids they will be allowed to care (having to count their own children as well as find kids to fit the ratios). Those that stay in business will almost certainly raise their rates significantly, especially for the under 2 spaces. All of this adds up to less spaces available and higher costs for parents.
Now, if all of this was really in the cause of keeping children safer, I would say “It’s worth it! Let’s all suck it up and do this for the kids!” However, the problem is that the daycares that are currently running illegally (with too many kids) are not following the current laws; they are not going to suddenly decide to follow the new law. These are the daycares in which children are in danger and this law will do nothing to stop them. If the Ministry of Education would do their job and follow up on complaints, inspect daycares with complaints against them, and shut down the unsafe ones, we would all be better off.
Bill 10 is now in second reading in the Ontario Legislature. Once it passes through second reading it will go to Committee, where we hope that some amendments will be made. After it is discussed in Committee, it will be passed into law. The Liberal party has said that they would like to have it passed before Christmas.
You can find out more at this Facebook Page: Ontario Families and Home Childcare Providers Against Bill 143
Or: Coalition of Independent Childcare Providers of Ontario
If you are concerned, please write to Education Minister Liz Sandals (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as your local MPs (follow this link to find them.) Act now before it’s too late; let the government know how this bill will affect you!