Child Care Modernization Act
The Day Nurseries Act is the legislation that currently governs child care in Ontario. This act originally came into force in 1946 and has not been comprehensively reviewed since 1983. It no longer reflects the child care needs of today's families or the realities of the child care sector.
What would Ontario's legislation achieve?
If passed, the Child Care Modernization Act would improve safety and help foster the learning, development, health and well-being of children through four key changes to the child care system:
1) Provide the government with greater authority and enforcement tools to strengthen oversight and enhance safety
These tools would include:
- The authority to issue administrative penalties, which could be up to $100,000 per infraction.
- The authority to immediately stop a child care provider from operating in circumstances where a child's safety is at risk.
- The ability to issue compliance orders and enforce rules in the unlicensed sector.
- The power to prevent individuals convicted of certain crimes from providing child care.
- The ability to increase the maximum penalty to $250,000, if found guilty in court of having committed an offence under the act. The current maximum penalty is $2,000.
- Better information sharing with other agencies such as Children's Aid Societies and public health agencies to support a more co-ordinated approach to protecting the well-being of children.
2) Increase access to spaces in licensed home child care settings
Under the proposed act, the number of children that licensed home child care providers could care for would increase from five to six. For example, if all current licensed home child care providers added one additional space, approximately 6,000 new licensed child care spaces would be created.
Unlicensed child care providers would still be permitted to care for a maximum of five children, but they would have to follow the same rules as licensed providers for relevant age groupings and count their own children under the age of six toward the maximum number of children permitted in care.
3) Clarify programs that do not require a licence
Certain types of care would be exempt from licensing, including care provided by relatives, child-minding at a mall or gym, babysitting, nannies and camps providing programs for school-age children.
Unlicensed child care providers, who care for no more than five children, would also not require a licence.
4) Improve safety and quality
The legislation and other policy changes reflect a focus on safety and high-quality programs that contribute to healthy child development and well-being.
If passed, the proposed legislation would also amend the Education Act to require school boards to ensure before- and after-school programs are available to six to 12 year olds, where there is sufficient demand. Programs could be delivered directly by boards, or by third-party providers prescribed by regulation.
In addition to these four key areas, amendments to the Early Childhood Educators Act are also proposed based on advice received through the statutory review of the act that was completed last fall. This includes the authority to accredit early childhood education programs, as well as the mandatory revocation of membership from the College of Early Childhood Educators if a member has been found guilty of sexual abuse or acts relating to child pornography. Proposed amendments would also clarify that anyone working within the scope of practice in early childhood education would be required to be registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators, including individuals providing care in unlicensed settings.
Amendments to legislation for re-introduction
Several amendments have been made to the proposed legislation for re-introduction. These changes do not affect the original scope or intent of the original legislation. The amendments were made in response to stakeholder feedback, address some technical clarifications and reflect the province's current commitment to enhancing the child care sector.
Some of the proposed changes include:
- Reflecting recent government commitments to highlight the need for a national child care program and the need for the Government of Canada to play a stronger role to support greater access to quality child care and early years services for families in Ontario.
- Clarifying the intent of a "common approach to pedagogy'' to support the range and diversity of quality child care and early years programs currently serving children in Ontario.
- Provide the College of Early Childhood Educators (CECE) with bylaw-making authority and Proposed Lieutenant Governor in Council regulation-making authority in relation to the oversight of the profession.
- Technical revisions to:
- Add that reasonable grounds for a person to enter a premise includes not complying with regulations made under the act (in addition to not complying with the act itself).
- Add regulation-making authority for a corresponding section of the bill respecting the accreditation of programs in early childhood education.