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Resources > Issues That Matter: Policy Commentaties

Issues That Matter: Policy Commentaries

 

Fundamental flaws flash over Ontario’s child care plan ~ New!
June 2017

"There is much to commend in the ministry’s document, but the fundamental flaws are flashing. As long as child care remains a market-driven service, designed as a workforce support and co-existing alongside an unlicensed black market, quality, affordable, universal, transparent, and accountable will remain words, and not the drivers of system transformation."


Declaration: For Recognition of All Children’s Right to Quality Educational Services, from Birth Onward ~ New!
May 2017

"Here is the Declaration of the Summit on Early Childhood Education for recognition of the right of every child to quality education services from birth. If you wish, you can make a citizen gesture by signing this Declaration electronically. In doing so, you will affirm your adherence to the principles set out therein and which promote equal opportunities for every citizen."

To read the English version, please view PDF here, however to add your name, please visit here to sign the French version.
 


Twelve Flawed Statements of the Fraser Institute on Quebec’s Childcare Program ~ New!
April 2017

Excerpt: "This Research Bulletin is an affront to the standards promised by the Fraser Institute’s website, according to which “careful, accurate and rigorous measurement” is the foundation for its work, and the source of its data is “always provided.” The twelve arguments made in support of its view that Quebec’s childcare program is “flawed” do not hold water. Measurement is often careless, inaccurate, negligent, absent or mathematically absurd. Many sources are anachronistic, contrarian or unrelated to the argument, irrelevant, misinterpreted or missing. Simple correlations are fallaciously taken as identifiers of cause and effect.

All in all, an intellectual disaster."


Budget 2017 says all the right things but women still pick up the tab
March, 2017

Excerpt: "The headlines scream $7-billion for child care but dial back the enthusiasm. New funding creeps up from $500-million this year to $550-million a year over the next five years. It is not until post-election and another five years before annual funding tops out in 2028 at $870-million. Over a decade ago Paul Martin Liberals came out of the gate with $1-billion a year over 5 years and a plan that continued to shape provincial child care services long after the Harper government extinguished the money."


Response to the “Building A Better Future” discussion paper from Petr Varmuza and Laura Coulman, PhD Candidates at OISE, University of Toronto, Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development, Early Learning Cohort
January, 2017

Excerpt: "What is needed now, for the early years and child care system, can be achieved in a gradual, orderly transition following from the innovative work that was set underway when your government created the public alternative to private delivery of early childhood education and care in Ontario for children ages four and five years. The reality is that more than one quarter of families in which parents are working or in school for 30 or more hours per week, have no regular child care arrangements. They resort to split shifts and weekend work which results in poorer work-life balance, reduced family time, and increased stress. And, of the children who are in a care arrangement full-time, more than one third are in informal care arrangements."


Finishing the Best Start vision in Ontario: A response to Ontario’s early years consultation
November, 2016

Excerpt: "Investments in expanding both capacity and affordability must go hand-in-hand. Each municipality needs the flexibility to plan the right balance based on local circumstances between increasing access through capital and increasing access through operating/subsidy. Allowing for a phased approach provides the flexibility to change based on changing circumstances from year to year."


Two commissions, same advice for New Brunswick early years
September, 2016

Excerpt: "Polling indicates Canadians understand and value public education, placing it only behind health care as a public good. As such we legislate it as a child’s right, invest in it and provide public oversight. Canadians are less familiar with childcare and are unsure where responsibility lies for its provision."


Inequity is the imperative of our time: Notes from the Congress on Early Childhood Education.
Paris, June 6-8, 2016

Excerpt: "While children have the least control over their economic circumstances they also have the most to gain from intentional interventions. Public policy designed to benefit children does make a difference."


Atkinson Centre's Response to Phase 2 Regulatory Proposals Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014
March 23, 2016

Excerpt: "We are pleased that the ministry recognizes the critical role of early childhood educators in the delivery of quality programs and services. Increasing the density of qualified staff in childcare programs, coupled with the recent hourly wage enhancements are important steps. Expanding the staff qualifications related to older school age children is appropriate given the developmental needs of this age group."


A Starting Point for Discussions on a New Federal/Provincial/Territorial Early Childhood Agreement
January 2016

Excerpt: "The success of f/p/t early childhood agreements are traditionally measured by the counting of new child care spaces or the size of financial transfers per child. These are inadequate measures, which on their own do not improve child outcomes. Can the pending talks open a new dialogue, informed by the best research, and centred around the best interests of young children? Can these discussions be a catalyst for turning provincial/territorial service patchworks into effective early childhood systems which finally tackle access and quality challenges while addressing the educational inequities children experience, especially those of Aboriginal heritage?"

  • A response by 4th Year George Brown College (GBC) Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership (ECL) students
  • A response by 3rd year George Brown College (GBC) Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership (ECL) students

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Regional Municipality of Waterloo Administration and Finance Committee Public Input Meeting
September 2015

Excerpt: "Municipal child care is not care like any other. It addresses the critical shortage of care for infants, it responds to children with exceptional needs and to families in crisis.   It fills a gap that centres in the community and home care do not have the capacity to provide.  In closing the Region’s centres you will be leaving many of these families with no place to go."

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It’s Time to Rethink Child Care; It’s Time for Preschool
by Margaret McCain
Source: Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, August 31, 2015

Excerpt: "As Canadian political leaders embark on the longest election campaign in our history they are finding that child care is an issue resonating with voters. Among the unexpected interested are 160 scientists and a coalition of charitable foundations. Earlier this summer the groups issued separate public statements, each urging policy makers to invest in high quality programs for preschoolers."

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Is a National Child Care Program Past its Due Date? How the Royal Commission on the Status of Women Nearly Got it Right (pdf)
April 2015

Excerpt: "More recently provinces and territories have looked to their education systems to expand early childhood opportunities. Full day kindergarten for 5 year olds is now the norm. Three provinces are including 4 year olds in publicly-funded kindergarten and most provinces offer some preschool programming at least for vulnerable children (Akbari & McCuaig, 2014)."

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In Search of Evidence (pdf)
November 2014

Excerpt: "Why is this work so important?  First, it pulls back the curtain on which provinces and territories are making progress and how each needs to progress further to seize the social and economic benefits of quality early childhood education for the nation’s children. This recent edition of the “index” idea, released by Mrs. McCain, reveals a good deal of progress by the provinces with much more to do.  Despite increased investments by provincial governments, far too many children are still denied access to pre-school with countries as disparate as Mexico and the UK doing far better than Canada. Overall, this kind of accountability reporting is about evidence-based decision making."

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Behind the Child Care Bidding Game (pdf)
May 2014

Excerpt: "The bidding for child care in the Ontario election campaign started at $269-million with the Liberals, dropped to $100-million by the NDP and vanished by the time it got to the Tories.   Surprisingly advocates don’t ask the NDP leader why she killed the budget to come back with $169-million less than what was initially on the table."

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A Caution about Wage Subsidies (pdf)
April 2014

Excerpt: "A number of jurisdictions are raising the salaries of Early Childhood Educators this year but all allocate more funding to qualified staff as a way to build a professional workforce.   Ontario’s announcement doesn’t appear to include this differential.  At $2 an hour over two years, Ontario’s raise is comparable to adjustments in Quebec, PEI and Newfoundland but less than the $6/hour going to trained ECEs in the NWT."

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Globe Misses Facts on Full-Day Kindergarten (pdf)
March 2014

Excerpt: "Atkinson Centre faculty took aim at the slanted manner applied to reporting on the impact of full-day kindergarten for 4- and 5-year olds in Ontario.  The article ignores the significant benefits of full-day kindergarten to zero in on the flat lining of reading, writing and numeracy skills for one group in the study."

Also see Globe and Mail Letters to the Editor.

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Policy Update: Full Day Kindergarten in Canada (pdf)
March 2014

Excerpt: "Newfoundland and Labrador will become the newest members of the Full Day Kindergarten club starting in 2016. The province’s March 27, 2014 budget includes a plan for new capital spending to retrofit schools for 5-year-olds and the hiring of 140 additional teachers. 

This is a quick look at kindergarten in the rest of Canada."

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Families Need Schools to Step Up (pdf)
February 2014

Excerpt: "Across Canada it is a familiar scene, parents lined up in the cold to get their kids into a preferred slot at a preschool.  Whether motivated by a desire to give their child a head start for school or the need for care so they can work, the challenge is the same - too many children for too few good spots. But in the Northwest Territories the scene is changing. Publicly funded schools are filling the breach."

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Responses to Child Care Modernization Act

On December 3, 2013, the Ontario government introduced the Child Care Modernization Act, to "take steps to strenghthen oversight of the province's unlicensed child care sector while increasing access to licensed child care options for families." 

Key Information:

Additional Resources:

Responses:

Update July 10, 2014: Improving the Safety and Accessibility of Child Care - Ontario Government Proposing Greater Oversight of Unlicensed Child Care Sector. Today, the Ontario government continues its support for families and children by re-introducing the Child Care Modernization Act, 2014.

The legislation, if passed, would strengthen oversight of the province's unlicensed child care sector, while increasing access to licensed child care options for families. In addition, it would allow the province to immediately shut down a child care provider when a child's safety is at risk.

  • To read the latest release (July 10, 2014) about the legislation

Update November 17, 2014: The Atkinson Centre, presented to the Standing Committee on Social Policy of  the Ontario Legislature, to provide feedback on Bill 10, An Act to enact the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, Presented by Bernice Cipparrone and Kerry McCuaig, November 17, 2014, Toronto, Ontario

Update December 2, 2014: Ontario Strengthening Child Care Oversight:Modernizing the Child Care Sector for Ontario Families.  Today, Bill 10, the Child Care Modernization Act, 2014, passed third reading in the Ontario legislature.

Update February 1, 2016: Regulatory Registry Posting related to the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 and the Education Act: Phase 2 Regulations. All interested parties are encouraged to provide feedback on the proposed regulations by April 1, 2016. The ministry values the unique and diverse perspectives from parents/families and broader child care, education, service system management, and early years partners.

Updated May 9, 2016: The Child Care and Early Years Act: Phase Two Regulations

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Atkinson Centre Statement: Consultation on Ontario’s Full Day Kindergarten Research and Results (pdf)
January 2014

Excerpt: "A group of diverse research and policy experts in early child development met to discuss the recently released findings on the implementation and impact of Full Day kindergarten in Ontario. As supporters of FDK, participants were interested in developing strategies to address the media backlash that followed the release of the ‘Meta-Perspective’ document and to ensure the program would be evaluated fairly and effectively over time."

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Full Day Kindergarten/Extended Day - Submission to The Honourable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance (pdf)
January 2014

Excerpt: "While full day kindergarten is a policy milestone, on schedule to serve over 260,000 four- and five-year-olds, unfortunately our government stopped short of implementing the bold vision for school operated early learning and care described in With Our Best Future In Mind. Fewer than 20 per cent of Ontario’s children 12-years and younger have access to regulated care. The dearth of safe, affordable child care options literally endangers children’s lives, curtails parents’ work opportunities and costs the economy in work/family conflicts.  As currently organized, child care creates a low wage sector reliant on social transfers."

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Full Day Kindergarten (pdf)
December 2013

Excerpt: "Margaret Wente contends the Education Minister fudged the numbers in her September announcement on the benefits of full day kindergarten for children. The true story she claims lies the ‘full report’ released by Queen’s University. (“Ontario's $1.5-billion kindergarten hoax”. Nov 30, Globe and Mail) Ms. Wente is referring to two different reports with two different purposes. Both were commissioned by the Ministry as part of the same evaluation."

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Good New and Bad in Bill 143 (pdf)
December 2013

Excerpt: "There is much depth and change in Bill 143.  It repeals the Day Nurseries Act and amends the Early Childhood Educators Act and the Education Act in ways good and bad."

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Ontario's Full Day Kindergaten a Success Story (pdf)
September 2013

Excerpt: "Those of us who held the pend a few years back to capture the best global research and practice available regarding the positive impact full-day kindgarten would have on 4- and 5-year-olds, titles our report, "With Our Best Future in Mind."  Based on the research released a few days ago, our best future is arriving ahead of schedule."

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A Remedy for this Child-Care Tragedy (pdf)
August 2013

Excerpt: "The parents of Eva Ravikovich are trying to drag a small good out of a huge wrong. They are using the courts to hold the province of Ontario accountable for the death of their little daughter in an overcrowded, unsanitary daycare. Precedence indicates they may get some small respite. Eva is not the first toddler to die in an unlicensed facility. Each time an official inquiry has chastised the province for the dearth of safe child choices and urged it to do better. In turn, Queen’s Park responds by adding a few more daycare spaces, a few more government controls."

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Recommendations for the Future Administration of the EDI in Ontario (pdf)
February 2013

Excerpt: "The Ontario Government has undertaken a review of the administration of the Early Development Instrument (EDI), including how data are collected, analyzed and reported. An external consulting firm, Malatest & Associates, conducted the review with a final report due in December 2012. The purpose of this paper is not to inform the consultant’s work but to use the occasion of a review to broaden the discussion about the EDI.  Our interest lies in maximizing its benefits.  Only by understanding the critical underlying principles of the EDI can we then address the issue of its administration."

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Work Progresses on Ontario’s Early Years Puzzle (pdf)
January 2013

Excerpt: "The task of creating coherence out of the province’s early years services took a step forward on January 23, 2013 with the release of the Ontario Early Years Policy Framework. It’s not the kind of document that gets media attention or stirs attention deep in the sector. The framework is about governance and while that isn’t as exciting as money or legislative change it is an essential forerunner if the latter are to be accomplished effectively."

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Waterloo’s Story: Implementing a Comprehensive Vision for Seamless Care (pdf)
November 2012

Excerpt: "Ontario’s implementation of the bold vision for school board operated seamless child care across Ontario that was described in, With Our Best Future In Mind , has hit a few road blocks. After a great deal of lobbying, some general election politicking, and resulting legislative changes, today, most school boards in Ontario have reverted to the status quo in terms of how before and after school programs are delivered. In the majority of school boards before and after care programs are delivered by a third-party agency resulting in access to service that ranges from comprehensive to skeletal. The exception to this pattern exists in Waterloo, Ontario."

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Modernizing Child Care in Ontario - Responses

The following are responses to the Government of Ontario's Modernizing Child Care in Ontario: Sharing Conversations, Strengthening Partnerships, Working Together discussion paper.

Modernizing the Early Years: Submission to the Government of Ontario in Response to Modernizing Child Care in Ontario (pdf)
September 2012

Excerpt: "The Atkinson Centre’s response to the Province of Ontario’s discussion paper, Modernizing Child Care in Ontario, draws on extensive evidence documenting the elements that support quality and accessible service delivery.  It is informed by consultations with members of the Atkinson Task Force, an alliance of early childhood program operators, professional organizations, parents and educators."

Modernizing Child Care - Questions to Answer: More to Ask (pdf)
July 2012

Excerpt: "Modernizing child care in Ontario is longer on questions than answers.  Perhaps that’s wise for a sector that feels it is not sufficiently consulted.  If viewed as a conversation starter, it provides an opportunity to build a consensus around much needed changes to early childhood service delivery.  What follows is an initial response to the document..."

- Response from Peter Tabuns, Education Critic, Ontario NDP (pdf)
- Response from the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (pdf)
- Response from the City of Toronto (pdf)
- Response from the Child Development Institute (pdf)
- Response from Andrew Fleck Child Care Services (pdf)
- Response from Petr Varmuza and Laura Coulman (pdf)
- Response from CUPE 4400 (pdf)

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Pain and Gain for Early Learning in Ontario Budget 2012 (pdf)
March 2012

Excerpt: "Ontario Budget 2012 makes no overt changes to early learning.  Full day kindergarten moves forward as planned to embrace all children by 2014.  Its unique educator team remains intact.  The Government should be commended for rejecting the narrow mindedness of Drummond’s recommendations. The back-story however has some twists.  A $75-million reduction in education capital grants will crash into the need to build or refurbish classrooms in schools where there is no space for the remaining influx of 100,000 children during the final phase of the rollout.  Most early childhood educators in kindergarten classrooms do not yet work under a collective agreement.  Public sector wage controls leaves them, and new all ECE entrants, immobilized at the starting gate...."

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Proposed Changes to the ASD Diagnosis: A Review of Implications for Early Childhood Programs (pdf)
March 2012

Excerpt: "A new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is currently in development to replace the existing DSMV-IV. One of the changes proposed is in the diagnostic criteria for autism and related conditions....  The risk with the change in the definition of ASD is that some families will no longer be recognized as having rights associated with disability categories. All Ontarians have the right to accommodation on the basis of disability and a diagnosis allows parents to more readily claim these rights. As an example, one of the most common reasons for children to be asked to leave an ECE setting is because of their behaviours. If a child has a diagnosis of autism, the parents can use this diagnosis as leverage to get supports rather than being excluded from the service."

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Did we Elect McGuinty or Drummond? (pdf)
February 2012

Excerpt: "In 2007 the newly re-elected Premier Dalton McGuinty asked former deputy minister Charles Pascal to look into the best way to implement full day kindergarten for all Ontario four-and five-year-olds.   Fast forward five years and another appointee, this time former banker Don Drummond, is being asked what to eliminate from the budget to ensure Ontario stays on track to eradicate a $16-billion deficit.  Top Liberals are being ruthless signaling the provincial budget will proceed with previously announced corporate tax breaks while requiring ministries to cut up to 30 per cent of their costs.  'Bear the pain for future gain' is the current mantra but there won’t be much pain sharing.  Program cuts tend to disproportionately affect the vulnerable while tax increases are shared across the economic strata.  Finding cheaper ways of delivering full time kindergarten, or eliminating it altogether have been floated in the media.  As Pascal told CBC radio, "There are two kinds of policy making—smart and dumb. And cutting full day kindergarten is definitely dumb.""

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Corporate Big-Box Child Care, Coming to An Apartment Building Near You (pdf)
February 2012

Excerpt: "While the company’s website suggests that Edleun centres are focused on improving the quality of the early childhood system, research consistently shows that for-profit programs provide lower quality child care. The rationale for using for-profit operators is typically to reduce the onus on government, legitimized as being more innovative and cost effective.  Research suggests however that non-profit or publicly owned programs are consistently found to provide higher quality services (Cleveland, 2008, Penn, 2010).  The Australian experience demonstrates how a corporate child care monopoly can hold government ransom with regard to oversight, reduced regulations, and increasing parental fees."

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In Response to Consultations on the Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program (pdf)
January 2012

Excerpt: "The Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program (Draft 2010) has been in draft form for the first two years of implementation of the Full Day Kindergarten program, during which time the Ministry of Education has been accepting informal feedback. This response is written as part of the formal two-part review process being conducted by the Ministry.... This critical phase of reviewing and revising the Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on the document’s strengths and areas for improvement."

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OpEd:Not on the Backs of Children
Source: Toronto Star, July 29, 2011

Excerpt: "The children of Toronto had nothing to do with this city’s budget woes but they could end up paying a steep price."

Kerry McCuaig is the Atkinson Policy Fellow at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. For more on this issue, see the commentary by Rick Blickstead of the Wellesley Institute.

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City of Toronto Core Service Review (pdf)
July 2011

Excerpt: "I would like to address three issues before you today.  1. The elimination of child care subsidies; 2. The privatization of city operated child care centres; 3. The elimination of quality controls. From an economic perspective public spending on child care is not consumption.  In the barest of economic terms it is an investment.  Child care delivers multiple benefits to the children and families who use it, but it also plays a multifaceted role in regional economies; as an economic sector in its own right with facilities, employees and consumption from other sectors; as labour force support to working parents; and for the long-term economic impact it has on the next generation of workers."

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In Response to "All-Day Classes: Too Much, Too Soon" (pdf)
June 2011

Excerpt: "The recent news stories in the Windsor Star based on a small scale study by Rachel Heydon, challenging the value and experience of children in full day kindergarten is built on spotty reports from a pilot study in two Ontario classrooms suggesting that the new Full Day Kindergarten program may harm children based on too much academics and too little play. Although recent news stories have acknowledged that a study of two classrooms doesn’t give us a clear picture, some journalists truly believe further study will prove the researchers right."

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Children with Special Educational Needs in Early Childhood (pdf)
June 2011

Excerpt: "All children need supports to achieve their optimal development. All young children need parenting, peer interaction, and educational opportunities in order to develop social skills, language, physical and cognitive competence. For many children with disabilities, this also includes early intervention strategies that might come from medical and clinical intervention, therapeutic interventions and/or family supports that increase resilience where there are risk factors for children and their families..."

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Effects of Full-Day K on Rural Child Care (pdf)
April 2011

Excerpt: "The Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program implementation will have a differentiated impact across the province, particularly in rural communities, where the instability of child care services may result in rural children and families bearing a heavier burden of change compared to their urban peers..."

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Response to Bill 173, Amendments to the Education Act (pdf)
April 2011

Excerpt: "There are three points I would like to share with the committee today which I hope will influence the committee’s proposal to amend the Education Act to allow third party operators to deliver extended day programs. First, the findings from the Toronto First Duty Program demonstrate the critical value in a seamless approach to early learning and family support..."

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Experiences of Internationally Educated ECEs (pdf)
April 2011

Excerpt: "In 2006, The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario (AECEO) launched The Access to Early Childhood Education Program (also referred to as the Bridging Program) in collaboration with the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office and the School of Early Childhood at George Brown College....  Since the program commenced in 2006, just over 100 individuals with international education credentials have completed the equivalency program..."

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March Break Looks Bleak for Ontario ECEs (pdf)
March 2011

Excerpt: "The issue of whether early childhood educators are deemed to be full-time early education professionals like teachers, or whether they are treated as ten-month contract positions is still to be resolved.  According to Service Canada (2011), if early childhood educators are considered full-time salaried teaching staff, they will not qualify for employment insurance.  However..."

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Response to the Ontario Best Start Child & Family Centre Consultation (pdf)
December 2010

Excerpt: "If there was one thing the government could do right now for children and families in Ontario, what could that be?  ....We have an opportunity to build a foundation for services for children and their families – but that means making a radical move toward something different and innovative.   It means moving away from the rhetoric of business as usual, working within the silos that fit like an old sweater but are starting to smell a little mouldy."

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