Bail Out the People and the Planet!
Please join Child Care Now (Ottawa) in demanding that Mayor Watson and Ottawa City Council protect hard won gains in access to childcare, which are now under threat as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold.
Given the pressures of this crisis (see below for more details), we demand that Council:
- Use all powers available and immediately provide emergency stabilization funding to replace parent fees and keep all licensed child care programs viable – this would send a strong signal that other levels of government need to act immediately and in partnership with municipalities to keep a critical sector alive
- Demand the Ontario and Federal governments provide full emergency stabilization funding for licensed programs– this could be in the form of a new child care sector emergency fund, or through opening existing emergency/disaster relief funds
- Immediately expand the eligibility list for recipients of free emergency child care during this crisis – this expanded list should include federal workers, and align with the provincial essential workers’ list. No workers deemed necessary to keep our lives running in these difficult times should be forced into dangerous and unlicensed child care.
- Work closely with Ottawa Public Health and child care workers to guarantee the highest level of safety for workers and families in emergency child care centres
On March 17, the Government of Ontario ordered all licensed child care centres closed as part of the declaration of a province-wide state of emergency. More recently, Doug Ford announced that parent fees at daycare centres will not be allowed to be collected – a good decision, but one that has not been followed up with any guarantees that our child care programs will be able to continue running after the crisis is over. Advocates in the child care sector and parents have warned that the sector will soon collapse – meaning many parents will lose access to childcare as already extremely underpaid workers are laid off – if stabilization funding is not immediately distributed to licensed centres. Also, as Ottawa mobilizes its emergency response to this pandemic, emergency child care is becoming an acute necessity and requires focused action from City Hall.
Other Canadian jurisdictions (including Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia) have shown leadership in guaranteeing stabilization funding and the survival of their ELCC sector, while Toronto has already expanded their essential workers list – the City of Ottawa can and should show leadership on these fronts.
This crisis hit a childcare sector that was already failing to meet the needs of Ottawa’s parents and child care workers, with huge gender and other equity consequences. Only one in three children have access to licensed care, infant to preschool care is entirely unaffordable for most parents, and high staff turnover because of abysmal compensation for workers is the norm. Council voted in September 2019 to make child care a Term of Council priority, and it’s time to take action!
Sign below to demand Ottawa City Council do what is needed to save and expand quality child care in our city.