Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce has announced regulatory amendments for the child-care sector that he says will improve access to before and after school care.
The changes will exempt certain authorized recreational providers from their three-hour operating limit, improving access to select before and after school programs for families with school-age children.
The changes should create up to 5,000 before and after school spaces, said Donna Skelly, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, who joined Lecce at the Friday announcement.
“Now more than ever, access to affordable and accessible child care will be critical to driving Ontario’s economic recovery,” Lecce said.
“And these changes that are announced today support that goal and demonstrate the ability to the province that we will provide choice, flexibility, affordability and access for families across Ontario.”
Other regulatory amendments affecting the child-care sector announced Friday include:
- Enhancing health and safety protections in licenced child care settings, such as requirements to support contact tracing by local public health, new requirements for home-based child care and updates to the safe storage of potentially poisonous and hazardous items.
- Reducing regulatory/administrative burden on child care operators by removing redundant and unnecessary requirements for all providers. These include the removal of duplicate requirements related to the collection of children's emergency contact information, allowing records and documents required by the regulation to be kept in digital format, and no longer requiring licensees to seek ministry approval for children 44 months and up to bring their own meals from home.
The province says these changes are based on feedback from families and the early years and child care sector, as outlined in the Strengthening Early Years and Child Care in Ontario report, and the long-standing advocacy of community based non-profit organizations delivering before and after school programs.