Tuesday 24 March 1992

Child care

Honourable Marion Boyd

United Voices for Fair Treatment in Child Care

Jackie Cousins, chairperson

Ellen Versteeg-Lytwyn, member

Ontario Coalition for Better Day Care

Jane Bertrand, President

Kerry McCuaig, executive director

Carrol Anne Sceviour, executive member

Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario

Judith Preston, president

Terri Watt, executive member

Humberside Montessori Day Care and Village Nursery

Felix Bednarski, owner-operator

Cedar Grove Children's Centre

Susan Kendall, owner-operator

Childcare Resource and Research Unit, University of Toronto

Martha Friendly


Chair / Président(e): Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L)

Acting Chair / Président(e) suppléant(e): Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East/-Est L)

Vice-Chair / Vice-Président(e): McClelland, Carman (Brampton North/-Nord L)

Abel, Donald (Wentworth North/-Nord ND)

Bisson, Gilles (Cochrane South/-Sud ND)

Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls ND)

Mammoliti, George (Yorkview ND)

Marchese, Rosario (Fort York ND)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Poole, Dianne (Eglinton L)

Turnbull, David (York Mills PC)

Winninger, David (London South/-Sud NDP)

Substitution(s) / Membre(s) remplaçant(s):

Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC) for Mr Turnbull

Jackson, Cameron (Burlington South/-Sud PC) for Mrs Marland

Mahoney, Steven W. (Mississauga West/-Ouest L) for Mr McClelland

Perruzza, Anthony (Downsview ND) for Mr Mammoliti

Ward, Brad (Brantford ND) for Mr Winninger

White, Drummond (Durham Centre/-Centre ND) for Mr Marchese

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Sonia Ostrowska, program policy analyst, child care branch

Clerk / Greffier: Deller, Deborah

Staff / Personnel: Baldwin, Elizabeth, Legislative Counsel

The committee met at 1010 in committee room 2.


Consideration of the designated matter pursuant to standing order 123, relating to child care.

The Chair: The standing committee on general government will come to order. The business of the committee today is to deal with standing order 123 in the name of Ms Poole. I believe all members have a copy, but for the purposes of Hansard I will read in the designation:

"The impact on women of the government's policies relating to independent child care centres in that these policies will impose further barriers to women's full and equal participation in the employment market, such examination to include the role of independent child care centres, their history, development, quality and accessibility, and the impact that conversion of these centres into non-profit will have on the public's right to choose, on the economy, on families with children in the centres, on the women who work in the centres, and on the small businesswomen who operate the centres, for the period of 12 hours."


The Chair: We welcome the minister to the committee today. I believe you have a statement.

Hon Mrs Boyd: Yes, I would like to start with a statement, Mr Chair. The first thing I would like to say is that, of course, the issue here is not the independence of centres at all. We have not in any way, through our policies, attempted to interfere with independent centres if we know that non-profit centres can be independent and are independent in terms of their operation under boards of directors.

What the government has done is to say that in the future any expansion of financial support to child care will be directed to the non-profit sector. Our contention is that the impact on women and their equity will be great over time and that this move of ours is in no way intended to impact on the equity agenda that we have set forward very strongly for women in this province.

As the minister responsible for women's issues as well as the Minister of Community and Social Services, I have the responsibility of ensuring that the provision of child care is done within that equity framework. It is for that very reason that, prior to beginning the consultation on child care which we announced some weeks ago and which is beginning throughout the province this month, we determined the necessity for us to state very clearly our preference for non-profit care, that it was important for us to put that consultation within that context. It is particularly important, from our point of view, because in order for women to participate fully and in fact to be equitable partners in the economic renewal that is ongoing in this province, it will be necessary for us as a community to ensure that the children for whom we share responsibility, as the future citizens of our province, have the appropriate care that they require and that parents expect if they are to participate fully in the economic life of the province.

When we look forward into the next century, to 2025, we see a picture demographically in this province that will require women to participate very fully in the workforce. We know that participation has been growing rapidly over the last 30 years, and we know that a majority of women who have children under the age of 12 now participate in the labour force. We also know that this province has for a long time taken a very strong position that licensed child care is of value to the citizens of Ontario, that it is an important way in which we provide nurturing and early childhood education to children, that it is an asset in terms of providing early identification of problems for children and that it provides assurance that those who wish to be in the labour market can also be responsible in their role as parents.

We are certainly in a situation where child care has grown at different rates and in different ways around the province. There are a number of reasons for that. One has been that we have shared with municipalities the responsibility for child care in terms of subsidized child care and different municipalities have taken different positions in terms of their roles in providing that child care. Some municipalities have taken that on as a municipal responsibility and formed municipal corporations to provide child care, and have also purchased service in terms of subsidized care from both the non-profit and the for-profit sector.

In other parts of the community, municipalities have not become directly involved in child care at all, but have purchased from either non-profit or for-profit operations any subsidies they were providing. In still other communities, municipalities have not opted into the subsidy of child care at all, and subsidized child care through municipalities is not available in many areas.

Part of what we are saying as a government is that it is time we stopped some of these inconsistencies and actually provided across the province the kind of equity of opportunity to enjoy licensed child care for those who choose to use it and for those who need to use it, and the only way we can do that is to really begin to reform the entire system so it becomes a system.

Right now we have very good care. We are certainly envied by many other jurisdictions for the efforts that have been put in by previous governments and by the current government into building child care as a form of service that is available to Ontarians. But it has been done on a fairly haphazard basis. It is not a systematic provision. It is not something that parents can be sure they will be able to find if they move from one part of this province to another and find jobs in that other part of the province. We have to be very aware that mobility is extremely important to employment equity these days.

We have made the determination that we are prepared to look at the entire way in which we provide child care, to look at the regulations under which we currently provide it and to look at the need for flexibility to meet the needs of those in northern communities, those in rural communities, those who are on shift work and those who are on seasonal work. Those kinds of needs are not met very well by the current Day Nurseries Act. We are saying that in the course of doing that we have to make some decisions about how we are going to allocate our resources.

Given the fiscal picture we all face right now, we know that we do not have large amounts of resources to pour into the system at this particular point in time and that we have to make some choices about how to strategically spend our dollars in order to work towards that equitable and consistent system. From our point of view as a government, we believe very strongly that, given the scarcity of public dollars, it is important to ensure that those public dollars are spent within the public sector and it is important for us to have the kind of monitoring that is available in that way, the kind of scrutiny and accountability by communities, both about the dollars and also about the kinds of programs and the kind of treatment children are getting, and that among our communities, parents have the right to have a good deal of input into that.


In the private for-profit sector, there is no requirement for commercial operations to have a community-based or parent-based board of directors that makes the decisions, both the financial decisions and the program decisions, the staffing decisions, all the decisions that go to make up the total experience children have in child care.

We are saying we think that kind of parental input is extremely important. It is part of the shared responsibility we see ourselves having for child care. We believe the non-profit sector offers the opportunity for parents to be more involved in the care their children receive in child care, and that is an important aspect.

We need to remember that when we talk about child care, there are a number of different ways in which we deliver it. It is delivered through centres. Mostly when people talk about child care, they talk about child care centres where there is group care for children of different ages according to the licensing requirements. But there is also delivery through the private home child care system, which is another form of licensed care that takes place in private homes.

Again, we believe it is important for that kind of care to be operated through the non-profit systems so there can be the kind of input by staff, by providers and by parents, as well as the community at large. We think in that way the needs of the community, the needs of the children, and the needs of their parents will be met most appropriately.

The other part of the system we need to talk about is the supports that we do have in place. They are not direct financial supports but the supports that we have in place for women who care for their children in their homes or who on an informal basis care for other people's children in their homes. We have limits on the number of children who can be looked after in an informal setting, but we know there need to be some program supports as well if those children are going to have equitable treatment. So the growth of children's resource centres, which offer toy lending libraries, book lending libraries, may offer some assistance to people in child management areas and so on. They have grown up as a kind of corollary service and one which we see in the future as being very supportive of equitable child care.

The question, as it is put for consideration, talks about the role, history and development of the for-profit sector. There is no question in my mind, having been involved for over 20 years in the child care sector, that the contributions of those who provide child care through the for-profit sector have been great. I come from a part of the province where the for-profit sector took the lead in the provision of child care in the early days of child care. There is no question in my mind about the dedication and concern for children that have been there on the part of many for-profit operators.

I would find it very distressing if there were to be a general sort of assumption that our decision in this way casts aspersions on the quality of care that is offered through the for-profit sector, even though there is certainly evidence in many research reports that there are some differences in quality between for-profit and non-profit care. That was not the major concern that led us to this decision. The major concern was the use of public dollars within the accountable public sector. That is our major concern at this point in time.

The impact of conversion on these centres: The whole purpose in our decision, as it came down, was to try to lessen the impact of our decision to direct provincial dollars only into the non-profit sector. We decided to dedicate a considerable number of dollars to try and ameliorate the effects of this decision on centres that have been operating. We are quite aware that because those dollars will have to be spent strategically, there will not simply be an open pot of money to which everyone can refer. There will be many who may be disappointed with the speed with which conversion can take place if they have decided upon conversion, but we did not feel it was fair for us simply to say that in future all dollars will be directed into the public sector and not provide some means for centres that have been operating and offering good care to be converted into non-profit centres.

There has been some concern and some misinformation, frankly, about the way in which this whole process will operate. In the first place it is important for the committee to be very clear that those centres that now get public funding through the direct operating grant and have subsidies contracts will continue to receive those grants at the level they now do. We are stating very clearly that they need to be grandparented out. They have operated in good faith in this province. Since 1987, when the previous government decided to be very clear in the direction of dollars to the non-profit sector, they have operated on the understanding that they can be sure of a certain level of support. The centres that were in operation and were eligible for the direct operating grant when it was instituted in 1987 ought to continue to enjoy that support.

What we are saying is that the increase in the for-profit sector and the increase in that sector with any expectation operators might have that they will subsequently have access to public funding is not a realistic expectation. We will continue to license the centres that meet the criteria in the Day Nurseries Act so that they are responsible themselves for having a business plan which requires them to operate without public funding. The choice is certainly there for those operators.

This is a situation very similar to when the public education system was growing in the last century. There were many private schools. When we as a community moved to the realization that it was important for us to provide accessible education to all the children in Ontario, there was a move from the privatized approach to a public sector approach. As we gradually move through the end of this century and into the next century, this whole aspect of child care is moving very much from a kind of charitable, corollary provision of care for children to an essential kind of care for children. As we do that we need to be mindful of the need to direct our funds in that way.

We have provided an opportunity for a reference group both from the for-profit and non-profit sectors to assist us in how to strategically direct the conversion funds. We think it is very important that the way this is done be informed by the kind of experience those who are private operators have, and that we not simply make decisions on a gross sort of basis but that we really look at the particular operations that are being converted and at how we can best use our dollars to ameliorate the effect of this decision on the operators themselves and ensure that our public dollars are spent most appropriately.

We need to be very clear that some of the decisions that were made in the past have led to some of the distress that the child care sector is experiencing now. One of the decisions I personally think was a very good decision and one I certainly support the continuance of was when the previous government decided new schools would have child care facilities attached to them. We think that was a good decision. We think it is something that has been an important component in the acceptance of child care at the community level.


What that decision did was not to strategically place the dollars. It took no account of whether there were private child care operations or non-profit child care operations in the vicinity of a new school. So we have many instances where we have public funds going into child cares in the same area and we have not strategically placed those dollars. Some of the distress that some of the centres have experienced has arisen from that kind of unplanned competition, which really has added to the distress in terms of enrolment.

There has been an argument that the better way would be not to spend those public dollars in the schools. We do not accept that argument. We say we have evolved greatly in our view of child care over the last 20 years. There is great support within communities for the notion of a continuous day, what we would call a seamless day, for children who can participate in child care within their communities, in a school where their siblings attend, move into junior or senior kindergarten if necessary, and if the availability of after-school care is also there, be able to maintain that. That provides a stability for children and it is something we think we want to support.

But we must be mindful that it has an effect on communities and on other child care operations in communities. What we need to be doing as a ministry is looking at the picture in a very strategic way, looking at the number of children who can be expected to use child care, looking at the number who will expect and need to have subsidized child care, looking at the number who are going to be going to child care close to their homes and those whose parents may choose to have them go close to their place of work; how all that affects the numbers we need to be looking at as we provide a system of child care.

We cannot do that unless we have some sense of how those dollars can be spent in the most strategic way. That is a very important aspect of the conversion we are doing. We are not saying that everyone who suddenly decides they want to convert will be able to convert right away. We are saying that as we go through the conversion process we need to focus on those areas that at the current time have no non-profit care or have too little non-profit care, and where there is a great deal of care being offered and available to parents, that will take a lower priority. We need to be very clear about that.

The last aspect, I would say, is the concern there has been around the wage subsidy, which is a form of down payment on pay equity. It is very important for this committee to understand that our decision to direct the pay equity down payment specifically to the non-profit sector was a very deeply considered decision originally announced by the minister in January 1991 and confirmed as part of the conversion package late this year. Our decision to do that was based on our decision to go forward with an expanded notion of pay equity which includes a proxy comparison for pay equity. That proxy comparison will be available for everyone who works in the child care sector.

Our support for non-profit care and our continuing decision to put our dollars there made us want to move ahead quickly with our grant to the non-profit sector in that regard. For-profit operators will be in the same position that non-profit operators are in in terms of the whole pay equity picture. There is no reason to assume that women who work in the for-profit sector should not expect to get the same level of pay eventually. There is no doubt that it will be a financial burden to those for-profit sector operators, and we are saying that as part of their business plan when they begin, they will have to take into account their responsibility to meet pay equity guidelines.

At the present time there is, on average, quite a gap in salary between the for-profit sector and the non-profit sector. We recognize that this creates difficulties for the for-profit sector in attracting and retaining staff. It is another reason we have decided to put our emphasis on the non-profit sector, so that we can ensure that the salaries offered to those who are looking after our children reflect the value we place on those children and that we are doing so in a responsible way that reflects our commitment to equity for women.

I thank you for the opportunity to make those opening statements. I would be very happy to answer any questions.

The Acting Chair (Mr Mahoney): Before we go to questions, I think we will have a response from the official opposition and the third party.

Ms Poole: I am very pleased, as the critic for women's issues for the Liberal caucus, to have an opportunity to respond to the minister's comments.

The reason we put forward standing order 123 is because of our deep concern about the minister's announcement of December 2, 1991, an announcement that was made following a decision made, I assume, in the dead of night, since there was no consultation and no warning that it was coming. There appear to have been no impact studies, or, if there have been, they were not released by the ministry. What has happened is that we have far more questions than answers resulting from this policy.

The minister announced that $75 million would be targeted over the next five years to converting independent, private sector child care centres to non-profit. The problem is that this $75 million did not create one more space. The $75 million will not create one more subsidy. The $75 million will certainly not lower parental fees. A massive infusion of moneys into the child care sector is certainly welcome, but I question the minister's priority in choosing to use it to convert independent, private sector child care centres, particularly because the minister says that the concern is not quality. If the minister had said the concern was quality and could back that up with statistics and facts, then perhaps there would be merit, but she said no, it is because it is spending of public dollars and there has to be accountability.

The minister has released a public consultation paper. Unfortunately, the consultation paper came out several months after the minister had made her decision. Granted, there are many more decisions to be made in child care, but one of the most controversial has already been made.

The minister has said and acknowledged that the contribution of the private sector has been great. If this is the case, I fail to see how she cannot acknowledge that this announcement will put a real squeeze on private sector child care. She has said no, it is a misunderstanding, that funds for expansion will be only in the non-profit sector and that is government policy. But I say that this was the previous government's policy. If that was simply it, there would be no change in policy. Since 1987, expansion has been in the non-profit sector. But what her announcement has also said is that the private sector child care centres will not receive the wage enhancements other than to maintain the previous levels, and that they will not receive the new subsidies.


What happens in the event that you have three children in the family and the first child is in private sector child care? Sure, that subsidy will be continued, but what about those other two children coming into the system? Does that mean the parents are going to have to split their children? What is happening to parental choice? The squeeze is definitely going to be put on private sector child care.

When you talked about private sector child care workers' wages, I could not believe the lack of logic that said, "There's already quite a gap; therefore we're going to create more of a gap." Is this your idea, Minister, of pay equity for women, that some women should have it but other women should not? In private sector child care it is primarily women operators and it is primarily women child care workers, and they are the ones having a major impact through your announcement.

I am very pleased that in the Liberal caucus today we have Yvonne O'Neill, critic for Community and Social Services, and Steve Mahoney, our critic for small business, who are equally concerned with the announcement you have made and who will be adding their particular expertise to this debate. We have many questions we are hoping the minister and the ministry can answer, because so far those answers have not been forthcoming.

Mr Jackson: There is a lot that I would like to say, and certainly the minister knows the views of my caucus and mine personally; we have had occasion to discuss them briefly. But at the outset let me thank the committee for seeing this as a sufficient priority that it occur at a very sensitive and important time not only for this province's budget but for the future of day care in our province.

I want to compliment the minister for her new language, her new use of buzzwords. To start up this presentation by saying she is not interfering with independence I personally find offensive, but I respect the minister's right to change the buzzwords to prepare for what municipalities are telling her, that her plan is fraught with fiscal irresponsibility. It is a social experiment of the worst order that we have seen in this province. Certain communist countries have taken over businesses.

Mr Perruzza: Oh.

Mr Bisson: Are we allowed to laugh?

The Chair: Order. Mr Jackson.

Mr Jackson: I apologize for my reference to the takeover of small business in eastern bloc countries; however, you cannot take away the public's perception that this is in fact what you are doing. I respect the Chair's rule, but that does not dissipate what the average citizen is telling us in polling, what the average parent is telling us, what municipalities now by resolution are trying to say to the government.

We will disagree on this, and I respect the fact that you have a certain intellectual fervour attached to your commitment in this regard and that surfaces rarely in politics. Certainly we have seen the government capitulate to British Gas interests when you drew a line. We saw you capitulate to insurance companies, many of them American, when you drew a line. Yet when you drew a line on businesses that are predominantly operated by women, when the employees are almost 100% women, when the purchasers of these services are predominantly women, you say, "On this we are standing." This causes some mixed messages and mixed concerns on the part of the community, and that is probably one of the reasons we are here: to discuss the true intention and to peel away the truth of what the government's real plan is.

In the few more moments that I have remaining, I want to take some of your comments and try to get a better handle on them. You talked about accountability, and yet you glossed over that. Nowhere do you reference those non-profit centres that are in fiscal difficulty. You put before this committee, not to replay your words directly, that the scrutiny by and accountability to the public is essential -- and this is for financial as well as for program matters -- yet we cannot get a clear picture from your ministry of how many non-profit centres are in financial difficulty. In my view having a clear handle on that would be your responsibility as a minister.

Social engineering aside, by simply being a minister of the crown you have a responsibility where taxpayer dollars are being spent for you personally and for your staff to be accountable, yet nowhere have we been able to secure from you some clear sense of the centres that are in fiscal difficulty. In your surprise announcement you indicated you could put a $10-million figure on it, but then when we ask you what you base it on you say you do not have stats and that you do not keep stats. That contradiction is important. Perhaps you should be given an opportunity to clarify that.

It is abundantly clear, as we listen carefully to the language you are now using, that independent centres do not have a hope of surviving, given the multitude of conditions you are going to put on them: no public funding and mandatory imposing of pay equity plans, which is what your reference really was to your commitment to pay equity for the private centres. You are really talking about your government edict but not the fact that financial plans would show that if there is no money, then you are going to take their licence away from them.

It is interesting that it is not on the basis of whether they are safe or whether the children are getting adequate program. Ultimately it boils down to the trigger on this whole process, which was that your government made an offensive decision to say that women who work in private centres are second-class employees and do not deserve even the kind of marginal support of funding. If you can accept the concept that the direct operating grant is a partial contribution, you cannot even embrace the notion that those women workers are important enough that you will embrace a partial pay equity plan in order that those jobs survive.

The one that really sticks in me on behalf of labour is your reference -- you start off by saying that parents should have transferability with their child if they move from one community to the other. Then you closed that sentence -- Hansard will corroborate this, of course; it was all in the same sentence -- with "in employment equity."

What is it? Are we talking about portability of a child's right to access to a subsidized space and the parents' right not to be interrupted, or are we saying that employees who lose their jobs in one area can resurface in Ottawa because their family plans cause them to move or the centre closes down and their employment equity rights are upheld and they can then maintain their seniority and they can still transfer?

The way you presented that in your opening statement caused some concern to me. If you say women workers have absolutely no rights in this process, that their seniority is out the door, that their years of experience are out the door and that concern for matching them in comparable situations is all out the door, then it would be helpful to this committee if you would explain that as part of it.

I was pleased to hear you saying that quality is not an issue. I want to thank you for that because I certainly agree with that. Most of the studies are American and from other provinces. If there was any substantive issue of examination of quality it was done by the Provincial Auditor, who indicated that matters of accountability strike across all centres in this province and that is one of fiscal accountability. We have yet to see a government address that issue in a meaningful way to ensure that these centres, regardless of their stripe, are being examined for their accountability. If the committee time permits, perhaps we will have an opportunity to ask one or two questions in that area.

You referenced the non-strategic allocation of dollars. You referenced the Liberals' decision to piggyback with the construction of schools. In fact, that has not really been a big issue as much as the issue of where the Ministry of Community and Social Services has been spending the money, and the Richmond Hill case has been used continually.

Mr Bisson: On a point of order, Mr Chair: We have an agreement with the Liberal caucus, which introduced the motion, that we would have five-minute introductions by each of the caucuses to be the leads and then we could get into periods, so maybe you can save that for the next part. He has been on about 10 minutes now.

Mr Jackson: I would like to thank the official timekeeper for the committee. I will wrap up my comments.


The Chair: I noticed you were just about to wind up your time.

Mr Jackson: I was. I am on my last page. The minister made some very important statements here and, in fairness, I am trying to confine my remarks to those that emanate from her statement, which is the spirit in which opening comments are done. I would simply like to suggest, as I was in the process of doing, that if you look at the Richmond Hill case there were centres that did not even open, that were built with public funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services and other ministries. So we still are not seeing evidence of the allocation being done with the same sensitivity to not overbuilding in certain areas, and I would like to see further evidence of what you are doing today rather than being critical of the manner in which the schools were dealt with.

My final point is, to what extent can the minister, please, advise us about her relationship with the Minister of Education on the issue on implementation of junior kindergarten? As you know, there is a series of boards that have served notice to this government that they are going to fight it. This is a serious matter, given that it constitutes about 50% of the children who are eligible for half-day junior and full-day senior kindergarten.

Since all those boards are articulating a scheme involving Comsoc and centres, whether they are private or non-profit, I very much would like to get a sense from the minister how she is advising the Minister of Education in these matters and how she sees it. There was only a brief reference in your opening statement on this subject, and yet it is a serious matter, given that boards are literally informing the public that they are not going to proceed with something which is an approved policy direction for this province.

So on those points, I would like to thank the minister and her policy adviser for their presence, and I look forward to questioning and the full committee hearing.

The Chair: With the committee's approval, I will do the questioning in rotation with each caucus having 15 minutes, and then we will divide the remaining time.

Mr Mahoney: The Tories just used part of theirs.

The Chair: That occurred to me somewhat.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: There are so many questions. I would like to try to be specific, if I could. A very brief question, first of all. There has been in the past a relatively standing committee between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Community and Social Services on the day care issue. Is that committee of ministry bureaucracy and/or ministerial responsibility still intact?

Hon Mrs Boyd: There is an interministerial committee that looks at all the children's services that is indeed still intact and very active, and this is one of the issues that we have been talking about, including such projects as Better Beginnings, Better Futures and those sorts of things. But certainly the conjunction between the MCSS responsibilities for child care and the education responsibilities for early childhood education have been part of that discussion.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am very happy that is the case. I have two questions on the impact of all of your announcements in reference to the issue. The first one is a clarification matter because I really have talked to many operators, even some of the bureaucrats in the larger centres, and there seems to be, at least in their minds and certainly in mine, confusion regarding the commitment you are making to the existing private small business centre. The confusion seems to stem from your talking about a fee here or an allocation of $31 million that it would cost to bring their staffing up, and if they converted, the $31 million would be used to ameliorate staffing remuneration.

At the same time, you are suggesting that those in existence and grandfathered to the 1987 status would have some subsidization or some direct grants going on. I guess I would like to know, do they stick at the 1987, 1988, 1989 rates, the direct operating and/or subsidy spot, or is there a phasing out? What is the implementation plan regarding those 1987-criteria people and spots?

Hon Mrs Boyd: For the 1987 people who were in receipt of direct operating grants, those direct operating grants were at 50% of the amount that was given to the non-profit sector.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Correct.

Hon Mrs Boyd: My understanding of the decision is that we continue for those centres to grandparent them at 50% of the direct operating grant.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That will continue to progress under the plan you have initiated?

Hon Mrs Boyd: To the point of conversion. The $31 million is to do the other 50% of the direct operating grant plus the salary enhancement for those operations that decide to convert.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You talked very generally about the communities across the province, and there are certainly inequities in provision of child care; we are all very aware of those. What kind of studies are you engaged in now, looking at the building of new schools as one of the components or any other components you may want to assess? Beyond Ottawa and Toronto, where we know the data is collected basically at the local level, what kind of studies do you have going province-wide?

Hon Mrs Boyd: There has been a fair amount of work done by the ministry at the area office level in the past, but very little done in the sensitive way we need for strategic planning. We are very clear about that. We know from the area office level what the general situation is for the different areas, but we know that the extent to which that leaves areas that have no child care and those that do is a problem. Part of our work on the child care consultation as we go out to communities all over the province is to gather that information directly from community members. We know that a lot of people who will want to speak are people who are providers: municipalities that are concerned about the way it is provided and parents who have either been able to get child care or not been able to get child care. So that will be put together in a much more sensitive way of gathering data. That is what we need.

As you are aware, because of the highly decentralized nature of our ministry, because of the way in which this has been a shared jurisdictional and funding issue with municipalities, there is very great unevenness in the way child care policies and frankly other transfer payment policies have been done across the province. Part of what we want to do in this area, since we see this as an issue of equity for both parents and children, is to work through this consultation process in a much more sensitive gathering of data, to be able to direct our funding much more strategically and enable us to be sure there is a much greater equity of provision.

Mr Jackson was curious as to what I meant about employment equity. What I am saying is that increasingly people who work in this province are finding that in order to get work they need to be mobile. Parents of children need to be sure that if they get a job in another part of the province there is going to be the social infrastructure there to support them and their children in order for them to go and seek work. What I am saying is that part of the equity issue, part of the equity framework we need to look at in this province, is ensuring to the extent we can that those kinds of services are equitably available.

That is not to say we do not have real problems and will not continue to have real problems around the way we offer child care, given the difference in the number of our population and the distances people have to travel. That is why we also know we may need to look at the regulations in the Day Nurseries Act, to look at ways to be more flexible in the provision of that care. There have been a number of interesting projects going on that have shown us ways in which, if we were just a little bit more flexible in terms of the delivery mode that we allowed, we would have much greater access to child care. We believe we need to do all those things to retool the system, because it is not a system now. If we are going to build a system that is going to ensure equity, then we need to do all those things first.


Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think that is why we found the announcement on December 2 so difficult, because we know how much more data needs to be gathered and we know this really does not add to the system. It may focus on a part of the system. I wish you well in the work you are doing. I somehow wish it could have been done this time last year, before such a strong commitment was made to go in this one direction with such a large amount of money and with no new spaces. In any case, we will continue the discussion.

Mr Mahoney: My questions would evolve a little more directly around the concept of a private day care centre being a small business. It seems to me the value of the private day care centre has virtually been eliminated by the announcement being dropped on the province. Any kind of goodwill this operator had built up, any sweat equity, if you like, or whatever term you want to put to it, in your best-case scenario would have been severely jeopardized. In my view, it would have been eliminated, not unlike what Bill 4 did to some of the apartment buildings and those dastardly landlords who sit around the province gouging people, according to that ministry.

Not to get off on that, I am concerned about the fact that we have private day care operations operating in good faith, knowing the rules of the game, with a business value, and you call them for-profit centres. That is all I hear coming from you and your colleagues. I guess my question would be, could you describe the types of operators that exist here? Are they large corporate citizens who simply opened a chain of day care centres to make millions of dollars or are they indeed local community women, in most cases, who found they were interested in establishing their career path in the day care field and hoped they would be able to augment their family income? Hopefully, they would be able to secure some kind of future. Is there prime concern for the word "for-profit" or is it day care for kids?

Hon Mrs Boyd: I do not think that is a fair characterization in terms of the choice. There are, in answer to your question, a whole range of different for-profit operations. There are indeed some large chains. There are some smaller chains where people have two or three outlets. The majority of the operators are single location or double location operators. Some indeed are operated by women, some are operated by families, some are operated by numbered corporations. The whole range is there and basically it certainly pulls at people's heartstrings to characterize it in one way or another, but the whole range of operations is there.

The interesting part of your question is around the issue of for-profit. One of the things that has always fascinated me in this discussion is the insistence by many people in the commercial sector that they are not in business to make money. In fact I have been engaged in public debates with private operators who have said very clearly, "If I were in this business to make money, I would not be in this business," and so on.

I would say to you that part of what we are saying is that we recognize there are not a lot of dollars to be made in the child care field. What we are trying to do through our conversion policy is to offer some equity to those people who have indeed done exactly what you described, put their work and their effort into building child care, and to say to them: "Given the situation of child care right now, the opportunity to make profit is certainly low. If you convert -- and we can make some adjustment for the investment that you've put in -- and you become employed at a decent salary, which is what we all want to see happen for child care operators, you may be in a better position." Some operators are very convinced by that. Indeed, we are seeing an increasing number -- we saw an increasing number under the Liberal process -- wanting to do that and seeing that as a more viable way.

The issue is whether you have to have a board that is going to make policy. This is where the ideological differences come in. Those of us who believe the care of vulnerable children ought to have a good deal of input from their parents and from communities, that this is an area where the operation of a board lends strength, safety and security to the operation for children, would say this is the only way that sort of care ought to be offered.

Mr Mahoney: Minister, if I could stop you there, please. I think you attempted to answer the question, but a couple of things you said lead to subsequent questions. On the comment about people saying they are not in business to make money, I agree with you. It is just like someone suggesting you go into business simply to create jobs.


Mr Mahoney: Yes, she said that.

Mrs Cunningham: I have not heard anything like that.

Mr Mahoney: She said that some people have claimed they are not in this business to make money. It is a little bit like people in politics who say they are not here to make money, that if they wanted to make money, they would do something else.

Mr Perruzza: Expand on that one a little bit, Steve.

Mr Mahoney: You are making more than you ever made in your life, so why not just be quiet for a minute.

The Chair: You have about 30 seconds, Mr Mahoney.

Mr Mahoney: In essence, I think what you said sums it up. You said you want to convert these people into government employees working in non-profit centres and take away their opportunity to be independent thinkers and operators running a small business. You said they would be better off making a salary. You have said you want to give them some kind of equity, yet you have not put forth a plan that says what you are prepared to pay them for their equity. Indeed, you are destroying their equity by taking the value out of their small business. It is so painfully clear, if you would only be open and honest about it, that you are totally destroying the private sector part of an overall business that is currently -- and you say it is not a system. Of course it is a system. It is a system of non-profit and a system of privately run day care centres around the province. You want to take it over and put it all under the state. Why do you not say that and tell these people you are prepared to offer them X amount of money for their businesses and X amount of money for their jobs if they want to continue working for you?

Hon Mrs Boyd: That is absolutely untrue. Our provision of child care is through transfer payment agencies. Some of those are Indian bands, some of those are municipalities and many of those are individual transfer payment agencies run by community boards. They are the employer. The government is not the employer and has no intention of being the employer. What we are saying is that the independence of those community boards is very precious to those communities, to the parents and to some of the staff who may participate on them. In fact, that is an independence which also takes into account the community good, not simply the views of the proprietor. We are saying that is a much more appropriate way around it.

Mr Mahoney: Give the independent operator an opportunity to set up a community board, Minister. Why do you not do that?

Hon Mrs Boyd: That is exactly the conversion --

Mr Mahoney: No, you are converting them to non-profit. That is what you are doing.

The Chair: Order. The minister has the floor.

Hon Mrs Boyd: That is exactly what the conversion process is. The conversion process is enabling them to get together a community board, to participate with their community and to --

Mr Mahoney: As long as they go out of business first.

Mr Perruzza: How much do you make?

Mrs Cunningham: How much do you make, Tony?

Mr Perruzza: I want to know how much he makes.

The Chair: Mrs Cunningham.


Mrs Cunningham: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I was interested in your words, "the government will not be the employer." I guess my question is this: How do you see child care being delivered 10 years from now, given the direction that the government is moving in? What is your vision for 10 years from now for child care?

Hon Mrs Boyd: My own vision?

Mrs Cunningham: Your government's vision -- well, yours, I would expect, or your government's. I would expect that they were consistent.

Hon Mrs Boyd: I would say, Dianne, that it is premature for us to be making that statement. We are out in consultation, and one of the issues there is being very clear about the different models. There was a model put forward by the select committee on education which came down very heavily in favour of a child care system that was operated in a similar way to the education system. My own personal work in the field has always been through individual independent non-profit corporations, where there is a much more direct input by parents and by community members than there can be in the school system. I personally would have some concerns, if we were simply to emulate the school system as it is now, that the kind of parental involvement that is most effective in terms of early childhood education might not be there.

I think it is going to be important for us to see, in terms of the work that has been done on the early years through the Ministry of Education and the information that we get back from our communities about the provision of child care -- and we have said in the paper very clearly that those two things need to come together. We need to get a sense of where the people of the province want to go. We know the people of the province do not want to go to a system of continuing to provide --

Mrs Cunningham: Let me interrupt, Minister, because my question was, where do you see it 10 years from now, and what you are chatting about is what you and I both agree with anyway. It is all process, and it should have happened 10 years ago. But given what you said today, I can clearly understand that you talked about three things: You said the government will not be the employer. My view is, given that it is moving in this direction, the government will be the employer, it will be universal paid-by-the-public child care, and I say that for two reasons. You talked about grandfathering or grandmothering or something --

Hon Mrs Boyd: Grandparenting.

Mrs Cunningham: -- grandparenting the private sector now. They cannot expand, because if they want more subsidized spaces, they are grandparented at 16 or 20 or 25, so they cannot expand. No new ones can start. Over a period of time, since it is a very stressful business, in my view, and it is not long-term for most operators, they will be phased out.

The other analogy that was interesting to me was how the private schools started up in Ontario. The view of the private schools, if you are talking 50, 60, 70 years ago -- it was a very long time ago, and I can only say that when public education came into Ontario, there was a very clear policy stating that for a certain age group -- six years and over -- there would be compulsory education. Now, I do not see this government being gutsy enough to say, "We want universal, paid child care for three- and four-year-olds," but in my view, that is what you want, and that is where you will be 10 years from now.

The one question I have, to do with the private centres right now, is this: You said there was no requirement for the private sector to have parental input, a board of directors. Now, this is a very important point, because it really is the only difference, in my view, between the non-profit that have the boards -- by the way, they can fire the owners if they have the boards; that is what has happened, and that is why the profit people do not want to go that way, if you want to use the word "profit." I do not like that word particularly, because I do not think there is a lot of profit. The auditors can certainly go in and look at any of these private agencies to see what kind of profit they make. As a matter of fact, right now they cannot get grants if they have shown any profit. They will not get the subsidized care. I know, because I have audited those books for the government of Ontario in the past.

So my question is this: If the single requirement is that you want a parental board, why do you not write it into the regulations and say that the non-profit sector shall have a parental board that will have impact, to the best of the decision of the ministry, which, by the way, licenses the non-profits and the profits. All you have to do is say they must have a board of directors. The only difference is, they cannot fire the owner. Now, that is how you solve the problem. We do not need all this public consultation if that is your concern.

As you went through your opening remarks, that was the only thing I noted as you pointing down and saying, "We do not want private sector operators." So answer my question. Why do you not just have a requirement within the regulations saying no subsidized spaces if you do not have a board of parents? Why do you not do that?

Hon Mrs Boyd: I find it fascinating that the party that purports to protect small business is talking about a small business person putting his investment into an operation and then having to be forced by government to have a board that could do all the running of that operation except the firing of the person.

Mrs Cunningham: Yes. They have to open their books now.

Mr Mahoney: It is better than being put out of business.

Hon Mrs Boyd: That is not going to be an appropriate view for a lot of those people.

Mrs Cunningham: Many of them do it now without regulations.

Hon Mrs Boyd: One of the differences between them is the profit. There is profit allowed for for-profit centres. Let us not be foolish about this. I can quite see that the profit margin is quite low --

Mrs Cunningham: Very low.

Hon Mrs Boyd: -- but people would not be fighting to maintain these businesses if there was no profit involved in it at all. So let's not be foolish about that. That is a big difference between the two operations.

Mrs Cunningham: On a point of privilege, Mr Chairman: I have never, nor has anybody, ever come before any committee of this Legislative Assembly and said that they are not out to make a profit, even though it is a small amount of money. Child care books are audited. In fact, you could not even get the direct operating grants in the private sector without opening your books. I remember the minister at the time, Sweeney, answering my question in the House, saying nobody who did not open their books would get the direct operating grants.

The reason I am being so forceful in this discussion is that I do not understand how you can sit here and say that over a period of time, in the next few weeks and years and months, we will take away 33,000 spaces in the private sector at a time when Ontario cannot afford to build those up right now. The timing could not be worse.

Hon Mrs Boyd: We are not saying we are taking those spaces out. We are offering those operators the opportunity to convert to non-profit and saying that we will limit the expansion of the for-profit sector in the future.

Mrs Cunningham: Given the comment by the minister that she could not sit here and listen to somebody from my party talk about opening up your books and having a board of directors made up of parents in a for-profit centre, I would say to her that the only difference would be -- and I think you and I agree -- that in the end the board of directors cannot take over the business. That is the only difference. If the ministry does not like what is happening in that centre because of the board of directors' recommendations, it can just say, "You're not going to get any more subsidized spaces." That is what they can say. The argument is so -- it is irresponsible to --

Hon Mrs Boyd: But we are already saying that they will not get any more spaces.

Mrs Cunningham: You are phasing them out.

Hon Mrs Boyd: We are not saying that we are phasing them out in that sense.

Mrs Cunningham: You are grandmothering or grandparenting them out.

Mr Bisson: Mr Chair, can we have a question and an answer rather than badgering? I think it would be a little bit more interesting.

Mrs Cunningham: Oh, be quiet. This is important questioning. If you do not like the way I am questioning, then just plug your ears. This minister is quite capable of taking care of herself. She is the wrong one for you to worry about.

The Chair: The question is to the minister.

Mrs Cunningham: Go for it, Marion. Let's hear the answer.

Hon Mrs Boyd: We need to be very, very clear that we could simply have gone ahead and announced our down payment on pay equity and continued with the announcement of that for the non-profit sector only without the effort to allow conversion. One of the things that is very important for you to understand and for the province to understand is that it would have been possible for us not to have put these dollars into the conversion, not to have been making the attempt to maintain the spaces, to maintain the employment of the employees and to provide some compensation for equity people had put into this sector. What we are clearly attempting to do is to do both at the same time.

Mrs Cunningham: On the employment equity, I can only say that I have been working in the child care sector for some 15 years of my life and just 10 years ago the average salary of a child care worker in Ontario was less than $10,000. My understanding is that it is right up there now, getting better, so employment equity has been achieved over the last decade. We have a further position to go, but are making significant strides, both in educating the workers and in paying them.

The one thing I would like to thank you for is to clarify before the public that licensed child care centres in this province are both private and public. This argument I keep reading about quality child care in the private sector not being sufficient is an old argument that was good for American institutions before the 1980s, a long time ago, and has never been significant in Ontario. I thank you for clarifying that because that is not an Ontario argument.


Mr Jackson: I have a couple of quick questions. Minister, could you identify the person on your staff who is responsible for negotiating these conversion programs?

Hon Mrs Boyd: The person on the ministry staff who is currently involved in that is a woman named Suzanne Zakoor who is working together with Keith Baird from my office and a reference group of operators from both the private and the non-profit sectors.

Mr Jackson: Can you tell me how many agreements your government has struck with independent centres to date?

Hon Mrs Boyd: There were some conversions and some sales that were in train at the time the announcement was made. We felt it was very unfair to those operators who had been in process, without any kind of warning, and so those went through. I believe there were under 10. I think that --

Mr Jackson: Would you please furnish this committee with the names of those centres and, in rough terms, the terms of the agreements, whether there was an expenditure or whether there was simply consultation or whether there were legal expenses paid? Could you share with the committee for its deliberations --

Hon Mrs Boyd: I wonder if I could finish, because I can certainly do that for you, but what --

Mr Jackson: In the interests of time, I wish to get on the record --

The Chair: Perhaps the minister could complete her response.

Hon Mrs Boyd: Yes, I need to finish what I was saying. We put a moratorium on any further conversions pending the outcome of these discussions around how to most strategically place these dollars. We have said very clearly from the beginning we cannot simply convert all operators who come to us saying they want to convert. We have been very clear about that. We have been very clear that we need to plan so that there will be the least disruption to the children and the parents and that child care is still available to those who need it. So until those decisions are made there will not be any further ones, so there are very few. I can certainly provide you with that.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: What is the date of the moratorium, Madam Minister, please?

Hon Mrs Boyd: The discussions are ongoing now. We are certainly hoping that by the end of the month we will have the guidelines in the hands of all our area managers and we will be able to proceed in order as those requests strategically come in. The requests have been taken --

Mr Jackson: So you do not have a time frame for that? You do not have a specific date, was the question.

Hon Mrs Boyd: The 31st and 1st is the next meeting. If the group agrees to the draft guidelines which have been drawn up in consultation with them, we can move with it immediately. If they do not, if we have to adjust it and then go back to them again, it may be another week.

Mr Jackson: You will furnish this committee, then, with all and any of those agreements that were struck. Is it also now the government's policy that where a centre is sold, the terms and conditions of the transfer of the DOG grant will be maintained, or is it now the position of the government that the previous understanding of grandfathering, grandparenting, will not be upheld? I understand that decision ultimately sat in the Premier's office for a week and a half and the decision was made. I am waiting for some public utterance of what the policy is.

Hon Mrs Boyd: Certainly, as far as I know, the decision was quite clear: that those sales that were in train at the time that the announcement had been made might not have been concluded, but all the specs for the business, all that sort of thing, were based on the DOGs being able to be transferred.

Mr Jackson: Correct.

Hon Mrs Boyd: That in those cases where that was clearly in train before the announcement, the DOGs went with the sale of the business.

Mr Jackson: No, I am talking about the straight sale of a business. I want to clarify that.

Hon Mrs Boyd: That is what I am saying. Where the sale was in train before the announcement was made, where it was in process, those DOGs would go with the business automatically. In those cases where that was not the case, subsequent to the announcement, where we had said that we would not, then that was not the case.

Mr Jackson: The previous government's grandfathering is no longer a policy --

Hon Mrs Boyd: Not in the case of sales, because there has to be a sale of the licence.

Mr White: Madam Minister, I was most impressed with your presentation. This is an area that has a great deal of interest for me, but I was disturbed by a number of the comments you made. Basically in my area we have an excellent public service and an excellent for-profit service. My children have enjoyed both of those, but I understand from what you are saying that if my wife was to take a job in London or in Thunder Bay or wherever else in this province, and of course my children and I would go along with her --

Mr Bisson: Hopefully.

Mr White: Hopefully. We would not have the guarantee of being able to go to a quality of service for our children that we have in our local community.

Hon Mrs Boyd: That is quite true.

Mr White: We would not have a predictable public service. We would not have a predictable not-for-profit community-board-run service. For-profit services might be available; we would not know them. But we would not be sure of having a service accessible to us in terms of our direction and our concerns, and responsive or accountable to us as parents.

Ms Poole: And you will not after this announcement.

Mr White: I am very concerned that we do not have, it seems, in this province either a systematic availability of not-for-profit centres, community-run centres, church-run, municipally run services or, it seems from our discussion, any strong sense of quality, any strong sense of evaluative research into the qualitative aspects of child care that are so essential to us as parents, so essential to us as anchor points in terms of our decisions. I guess that strikes me as being a very profound shortcoming in our system. I know the consultation process that is ongoing will at least partly address that, but what I am further concerned about is that as a ministry yours does not seem to have the capacity to offer any kind of qualitative or evaluative research. Is that right?

Hon Mrs Boyd: No, I think you misunderstood me. What I was saying was that any licensed child care in this province needs to meet standards that are regarded, frankly, throughout the world as being very high standards. They may in fact be too rigid standards in order to provide the kind of flexibility of care we need. That is one of the things that are out for consultation. If it is a licensed child care centre, whether it is private or whether it is non-profit community-based, whether it is municipally run, it needs to meet those basic minimum standards, so that in terms of quality, if you are able to find a licensed centre, you can be sure that licensed centre has been inspected, and there are minimum quality standards you can be sure of.

The issue is that the availability of licensed care is very uneven throughout the province because in fact we are at the very beginning stage of building a system of child care. It has built up at very uneven rates, depending on the community activism in certain areas, depending on the entrepreneurial spirit in others, depending on the encouragement of both municipal and provincial officials in certain areas. I certainly would say that in the past the emphasis on child care as a program offered by the ministry has been more enthusiastically embraced in some areas of the province than in others.

One of the issues we are dealing with in our ministry is that the highly decentralized decision-making that is made at the local level in our ministry does give a responsiveness to community desire and need, but it may not provide the consistency across the board. If a community is more concerned, for example, about the provision of care for the developmentally handicapped and wants to put more of its emphasis there than it does on child care, there is flexibility in the way the funding has been applied.


We are saying that given the importance of the availability of child care to employment equity in this province for parents who need it and for children who choose it, we need to have a more consistent approach, be more strategic in the spending of our dollars and over the next few years, in those areas where there has not been the building up of the system that we might want, we strategically put some of our dollars in to make sure that is available there.

Right now if someone meets the standards, forms a corporation and is ready to provide, he can get a licence. They may not be able to get a subsidy if there are not dollars available in the municipality which controls the subsidy, but there has been no way to strategically ensure that we are beginning to do that.

Where we are offering startup costs, we are insisting that non-profit groups have feasibility studies, that they have a business plan, that they show that the number of spaces they are planning will be a viable operation and that there is enough need in the community. That is the kind of strategic planning we are just beginning. We are behind many other countries that have been much more active in terms of child care, even though we are probably ahead of any of the other provinces in Canada in terms of how we have gone with child care.

Mr White: The issue of the direct operating grants I find a matter of some strong concern. My understanding is that the direct operating grants, the millions of dollars that are poured into for-profit centres -- I am not quite sure what the rationale behind that is -- were set up as a result of federal government policies and there would be a sharing of those costs on the basis of a national child care strategy. The federal government has proven the viability of its word and commitment to the youth and social programs of our nation by sabotaging and totally gutting those programs. In the meantime, despite that, we have preserved those grants.

We have been spending at this point literally close to $100 million dollars in grants to for-profit centres on the basis of a federal government promise. They have gutted their promise. You, Minister, very clearly stated a few moments ago that you were intending to continue that at least in the short run, while the federal government has gutted its promise, its commitment to child care centres, whether for-profit or not-for-profit. It seems somewhat similar to the situation with social welfare, with hospitals, with the whole social network we are faced with: We are picking up the tab for the federal government's failures.

Mrs Cunningham: Where is the 60% funding for education, Drummond?

The Chair: Mrs Cunningham.

Mrs Cunningham: I am just making a point.

The Chair: Mr White, continue.


The Chair: Mrs Cunningham, Mr Perruzza.

Mr White: I am just concerned that we are continuing to match our half while the federal government has of course gutted its commitment and responsibility.

Hon Mrs Boyd: I think it is an extremely important question, because the reality is that in 1987 the previous government clearly made the decision that it had a preference for non-profit. They clearly said that only those centres that were operating at that point would be eligible for the direct operating grant. You are right, they did assume -- we all did at that point -- that there was some truth to the promise that the federal government had made around child care. That promise has not been kept, you are quite right. Those dollars have not come.

What is more serious for us in this province is that child care is funded under the Canada assistance plan. The Canada assistance plan has been capped at a 5% increase at least until 1995. What that means is that we are now picking up 100-cent dollars for those direct operating grants. You are quite right, we have made a decision, and it is that balancing act whether we in fact download and ignore our grandparenting responsibility to those operators who in good faith have continued to provide care. We are saying yes, we are spending 100-cent dollars on this, but given the good faith those operators have put in, the care they provide and the need we have to maintain child care in the province, yes, we will continue to pay that for those. But we will not spend any more 100-cent public dollars in the for-profit sector. We do not think that is appropriate at a time of close resources. But we also do see some responsibility to operators who have provided service and continue to provide service to the children of Ontario.

Ms Harrington: I would like to get to the question of conversion. I think this is the most important process. I want to first of all mention Niagara Falls. We do have some very good private care centres which have been operating for quite some time. We rely on them very much. I have spoken to these people. These are people who certainly care about their children and their business. What we have come to realize is that there really is, as you have mentioned, no profit in this business. When you are trying to pay adequate wages and you are trying to have reasonable day care costs, there is nothing there.

If no announcement had been made these businesses would have been totally in limbo and would be facing an uncertain future. After some due consideration by the business operators, it is difficult at first to reluctantly try to understand what is happening. But I believe they are coming to an understanding -- at least some I have talked to -- that what we are doing is giving a clear direction and we are also giving assistance out of this morass where there has been no answer.

This process is not without a great deal of difficulty; I have difficulty with it as well. What I need and what I would like to ask you for now is more clarification on this conversion process, because I am obligated to these private day care operators in my city and region to make sure that day care is available. What I would like to know is if there is a time line or schedule for this year as to how things are going to proceed. They are also very concerned about the individual needs of each centre and how they are going to be addressed. I know there is no easy answer; at least I cannot think of any. If you could give me a little more clarification, I would appreciate it.

Hon Mrs Boyd: What we are doing through the reference group is setting up the guidelines that will be used by every area office to work with the private sector operators who have indicated they want to convert, with those non-profit centres that may wish to either take on some of the tasks that have been done by the for-profit sector or new corporations that have formed out of the parents and the community who want to assist a for-profit operator to convert. There will be requirements for them to meet in terms of the board of directors and their responsibilities. That will be done in one part.

The other part of that is to look at the availability of child care, to look at the viability of child care within an area. We know that a number of centres across the province, both for-profit and non-profit, have failed because of the downturn in enrolments because of the recession and we know that is causing a great shift, as it is in other businesses in the province. We need to be sure that any operations we put conversion dollars into are going to be viable operations, that they are licensed to look after a number of children in the combinations of numbers that are going to ensure they will be viable and that the enrolment base is there for continued viability.

We need to look at the projections of children in a neighbourhood, for example, and if what we are seeing is an age bump right now that is going through and there are not going to be a lot of children in that neighbourhood, we may not have that as a high priority for conversion. There will be a way in which those priorities are set and the dollars are strategically placed to maintain child care where it is most needed and where we can be sure of viable operations.


Ms Harrington: I am hearing from the employees of the private sector day care that they understand where we are going, that we are trying to get them equal in pay, but their concern is all this studying and the time lines and the consideration. They do not know when it is going to come down. Is it going to be within a year? These employees are worried.

Hon Mrs Boyd: The pay equity amendments have been introduced into the Legislature. We hope they will be coming to the Legislature for second and third reading in the next session. A great deal will depend on whether or not those go through and whether we can proceed with our plans for proxy-based pay equity plans.

If the legislation is passed and we can move ahead with that, then that would go more quickly than if it were delayed. That is part of the aspect here. The down payment for the non-profit sector was based on the commitment made in January 1991 that we would move ahead with that as a signal to the child care sector that we were proceeding with pay equity.

Ms Harrington: The problem they are also concerned about is the conversion.

The Chair: Each caucus will have 10 minutes in the next round.

Ms Poole: I would like to explore the rationale for the sudden announcement made on December 2, 1991. We know part of the rationale behind it and the fact that it was announced at the Ontario Coalition for Better Daycare's annual meeting. They were very upset over the fact that the government had delayed implementation of the announcement in January 1991 of the wage enhancement. Certainly part of this announcement was to appease that, but it appears there was no planning, there was no consultation and if there are impact studies, we certainly are not aware of them.

Could you please give us the story behind this decision? What kind of statistics did you base this decision on? What was the anticipated number of closures? What was the anticipated number of workers from the private centres who would lose their jobs because of it? How did you reach the target number of 50% that would be allowed to convert? How did you feel that accountability would be increased by this decision, particularly in light of the fact that the non-profit sector, which already operates with the parental boards, was estimated by you to be $10 million in financial jeopardy that would have to be rectified?

I would like to know how many non-profit agencies are in debt and were in debt, and how many were in receivership. Perhaps you could start along that line, specific statistics, and whatever you do not have available now I would officially request to the committee that these statistics be made available hopefully by the end of today so that we have them for our deliberations.

Hon Mrs Boyd: I will be very frank. When we took over the government, we were shocked at the lack of reliable statistics that really gave us this sense. It is one of the reasons we say it was not a system. We were pouring, as a province, a good deal of money into this area, but there was not a way in which those statistics were gathered that satisfied us, and we began as soon as possible under the previous minister to gather those statistics. We have them by region of the province. We know the centres that look as though they are having difficulty, we know how many have closed by region on a quarterly basis. We do have those statistics and those were available to us in making our decision.

We also know that those statistics are somewhat skewed by the current economic crisis. Child care is very sensitive to job loss, because when parents lose their jobs, of course they are not eligible for subsidy. We are seeing a great dislocation in the child care system right now because of vacancies caused by the parental loss of jobs, and of course the instability that creates for children at the same time is of great concern to us. The whole system is very much in flux. We can give you the figures we have, but we also know, and the child care sector has been clear in all the work it has done with us over the last year, that those figures may be somewhat unreliable because of the great flux that it is in.

When you say there has been no consultation, I just shake my head. I cannot imagine how you can make that statement. There was a great deal of consultation during all the hearings of the select committee on education around this whole area of child care. You yourself were part of those discussions.

Ms Poole: Minister, I chaired the select committee on education. We did not address the private-versus-non-profit issue.

Hon Mrs Boyd: There were many who tried to at that time, and many of the people who testified talked about that as a real issue in terms of child care.

Mr Mahoney: It was not a mandate of that committee. That is nonsense.

The Chair: The minister has the floor.

Ms Poole: It was the select committee on education, Minister, not the select committee on child care.

Hon Mrs Boyd: When the previous government came out with its discussion paper New Directions for Child Care there was a further round of consultations. When the federal government was doing all its work in terms of child care, there was much discussion that went on, many representations made by child care groups on both sides of this issue in the province, and the discussion between profit and non-profit certainly was one of the issues that was discussed in that area.

When the previous minister made her announcement about the down payment on pay equity in January 1991 it raised a tremendous flutter, and over the year people in the ministry at the area level, the previous minister, myself and many members of our government had occasion to meet with many members of the child care community, both for-profit and non-profit, within their constituencies, within groups as delegations. There was a great deal of consultation that went on, but one of the issues is that when we do not agree with --

Ms Poole: Excuse me for interrupting, but we are getting into generalities which are not that helpful.

Hon Mrs Boyd: You said there was no consultation. There was a great deal of consultation.

Ms Poole: Minister, will you specifically answer this question: Was there consultation with the private sector groups or the non-profit sector groups that you met with where you discussed this policy that you announced on December 2, 1991? Was that policy discussed?

Hon Mrs Boyd: I personally, as a member, as an MPP, met with for-profit groups and made it very clear that we favoured the for-profit sector, that we did not want to act in a way that was going to be destructive of those who had already been grandparented under the previous Liberal plan, but that we had real concerns about our ability to continue to support and build a child care system unless we had the focus of public funds in the public sector. I was very frank about that.

I cannot speak to the discussions the previous minister had with the various groups, although I understand that she met with them. I cannot speak to that, but I know that I personally have been very clear and that in terms of public statements by our government we have been very clear, both previous to the election and since the election, that we want to focus public funding in the non-profit sector. That has been a clear focus of our government.

Ms Poole: It was a clear focus of the previous Liberal government to focus on the non-profit sector and expansion, but that is certainly not the policy you are dealing with right now. You are dealing with a policy that will virtually guarantee the elimination of the private sector in this province, and that is a very deep difference. This will not go to legislation. There will be no opportunity to debate this other than in this particular committee, and we hear that you, as a private MPP, made your views known and that was the consultation. That is unacceptable.

Do you have specific statistics that would lead you to make estimates of how many closures would be anticipated, how many workers would be out of jobs in the private sector, and how did you determine the 50% quota that you were allowed to convert?

Hon Mrs Boyd: Part of the work that was done within the ministry was based on our experience over the last number of years in terms of the change and just the regular erosion, if you wish to call it that, of the for-profit sector. There had been quite a change, almost a 10% shift from the for-profit into the non-profit sector at that time. Some of those were closures, some of them were conversions, some of them were purchases. There were a number of different ways in which those happened since 1987, and the experience of that was calculated based on what we thought would likely happen, given the determination that was being expressed by many private operators that they would never accept conversion, that they would rather go it alone and from an ideological and educational point of view felt that was the appropriate way.


That was how those decisions were made. We based it on average costs we had seen for the kind of startup of child care we had been funding in different areas, and it was our best guess. The 50% figure was decided upon simply because of the fiscal impossibility, under the circumstances, of our being able to guarantee that we would be able to convert all of those operations.

The other factor that is not in there is obviously, because of the strategic placing of the funds, whether in fact the decisions private operators make may be different from what we assume they will make, given the previous picture. But there were certainly some data on which we were basing those decisions, and again I would caution you that the one thing we could not take into account over that period of time was the effect of the recession and the lack of enrolment in the centres, because that has been an added factor over the last few months that could not be taken into account in any orderly way.

Ms Poole: Might I request that the committee have those statistics that the ministry has available? Might I make that official request for the committee?

Mr Mahoney: But it was all a guess.

Hon Mrs Boyd: Any time one does predictions around this sort of thing, there is a lot of guessing involved, but it is an educated guess, based on the experience of the past.

Mr Mahoney: So it is government by best guessing. Is that what the Treasurer did too?

The Chair: Mrs Poole has made a request that the committee officially ask for the information. Is that what I understand, Mrs Poole?

Ms Poole: That is right, and any impact studies that were available to the government.

Mr Mahoney: And who made the guess.

Ms Poole: The best guess.

The Chair: We will make that request. Mrs Cunningham, your caucus has 10 minutes.


Mrs Cunningham: My colleague over here talks about making work, and I would suggest that is exactly what the government is doing with its paper called Child Care Reform in Ontario: Setting the Stage. Most of the questions in this report have already been answered many, many times, but it is true that there has not been a public consultation either around pre-kindergarten or child care or the interaction of the role in Ontario, I would say, since 1978, the last public consultation that went out.

I will also say that there were three key questions left with the Liberal government in its child care paper. First of all, the role of the school system was left up for public consultation. I am hoping you will get a lot of it. It is not underlined here. It is part of it. It is a very small part, the very last topic, on page 35 of a 37-page report, so I hope it will be a major one. The other one was the role of private home child care and whether or not we could move forward in licensing the unlicensed homes, which was a very considerable concern, and the third one, one that has been on all three government agendas now, was the review of the Day Nurseries Act. Specifically, those are the three things I think the government should be moving forward on. It would be an evolution, in my view, from what we have already done. To go back with this consultation paper, I hope you will come out with some other paper to support this, because this one is far too broad.

When you talk about system management, I would like to ask the minister this: What role should the provincial government play in the planning and management of child care in Ontario? In my view, do you not think you have already told the public what the provincial government will be doing? Why go out and ask them now?

Hon Mrs Boyd: There is still a great deal of discussion, particularly at the municipal level, about what the role of municipalities ought to be. Where municipalities have been enthusiastic supporters of child care, we see a great support for municipalities to continue to be jurisdictionally --

Mrs Cunningham: There was a report done over the last three years with the Liberal government where the municipalities clearly stated that they do not want to be part of child care. We had a three-year consultation --

Mr White: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I was wanting to hear the minister's response, and she did not have the opportunity to offer it.

The Chair: Your caucus will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Mrs Cunningham: You will have your chance. You can ask again if she does not answer the question.

Mr White: Ask the same questions the member refused to allow the response to?

Mrs Cunningham: No, I am just saying the minister's response was that the municipalities are up for grabs. Unless they have changed their minds, they very clearly stated over -- and by the way, I complain --

The Chair: Through the Chair.

Mr Perruzza: Mr Chair, really, this dialogue goes back and forth.

Mrs Cunningham: Why do you not listen? Maybe you will learn something for a change, all right?

Mr Chairman, I would like to say that at great public expense, not just in dollars, but in municipal time -- I am now talking about a major study that was done on the role of municipalities, provincial-municipal sharing -- the municipalities came forward and told the previous government -- and I have been sitting around here for some four years listening to this. Surely we do not have to ask them again. They said they do not want to be part of the funding of child care. Now, they said they would be part of other things. That was their last position. Why ask them again? Let's just get on with it. Now this government is talking about disentanglement, whatever that means. We are going to ask them the same thing all over again.

Nobody wants to pay for anything. What we are looking for is leadership, and these questions have already been answered. I say the government has shown leadership and they have already stated their case. They are moving in a certain direction: to publicly funded, universal child care, and I am saying the timing is terrible.

We should be looking at more private homes; that was the position. We should clearly look at the role of the schools. The minister is here today and I asked her, and do not answer by saying what the municipalities want; it is what you want that matters. I do not think these questions are specific enough. Are you going to make them more specific? What do you want to know about?

Hon Mrs Boyd: Unlike you, when I ask a question, I like to listen to the answer. We have asked a number of questions and you are quite right, there has been a lot of talk about this, but we have not had a province-wide discussion. We hear very conflicting views from different regions and sectors of this province. Rural people want something very different from what urban people want. Rural municipalities want to have some say that they feel they have not had in terms of how child care is delivered. They do not feel the models developed in large urban centres suit them.

Mrs Cunningham: That is not new.

Hon Mrs Boyd: They feel that the Day Nurseries Act is too rigid to fit them and we agree with that. We are asking questions in the legitimate effort to find out what people want and expect. It would be easy to simply apply a system on top of this province, but we would not be sure it would meet the needs.

You say it has all been decided that the municipalities do not want to pay for anything. Municipalities never want to pay for anything, but they do want some say. They have been very jealous of their control over the number of subsidized spaces, and many of them are saying they continue to want that control because they see it as a community issue. They want to have a real input from the local level into how child care is delivered.

Jurisdictional and funding issues may be different, and we are asking both those questions to find out what goes. You may remember that the Provincial-Municipal Social Services Review Committee suggested municipalities be totally responsible for child care. Hopcroft said no, the municipalities should not be responsible. What we are saying is that there is not a consensus of opinion and we are trying to build a consensus of opinion.

Mrs Cunningham: I guess the key question now is: Will you be listening?

I know a position paper to be presented April 3 in London says that the city fears a loss of valuable, private day care spaces. So the question is: Will you be listening to the input?

Hon Mrs Boyd: I certainly will be listening to the input.

The Chair: Thank you. There are a couple of minutes left in your time.

Mr Perruzza: They are out of ideas and out of questions, Mr Chair.

Mr Jackson: My question concerns the number of municipal spaces being dropped. Does your ministry have a handle on that and if so, can you share those statistics with this committee?

Hon Mrs Boyd: Most of the municipal budgets, although they have been under discussion, are still at the preliminary stage, and we are not clear on that. Some of the final decisions on the most celebrated cases are still to be made.

Mr Jackson: But there are cases now.

Hon Mrs Boyd: We are gathering that information through our area offices. At this point, no, we do not have a complete picture, although we have certain areas that have been very explicit, but it is not clear at this time. We know municipalities are saying that they are unwilling to expand subsidized spaces and that some have indicated a desire to get out of the subsidized business entirely.


Mr Jackson: Can you share with us the partial list of those? To reference you, you said some were clear that they had made that direction. I am aware of some municipalities and I am sure you are. Will you undertake to share with both caucuses when you do have the statistics?

Hon Mrs Boyd: When we have the statistics we certainly will be doing that. This is an issue of great concern.

Mr Jackson: Thank you. My next question has to do with the number of audits and visits undertaken by your ministry in this last fiscal year, the number of visits taken and the distribution between private and non-profit centres. To what extent have we been expanding the visits by ministry staff, or have we, for purposes of examination? This committee will be giving a considerable amount of attention to the issues of scrutiny and accountability, so if you could share that with us, I would appreciate it.

As you know, I have raised questions with you, and you have undertaken in a statement during one of the late shows that you would undertake to pull together statistics in a more timely fashion. One of those statistics is the number of non-profit centres that are in financial difficulty and the degree to which you are on top of this issue. I think Ms Poole, as I was just out of the room for a moment, has requested the statistics on closures. I would like to extend that on behalf of the committee, for its work and its report, to look at the number of centres that have advised you or that you are aware are in financial difficulty. There is a large number that have closed.

The second part of that question has to do with the deficits and who is picking up those deficits. As non-profit corporations, there are labour adjustment matters, leases, lawsuits -- there is a whole series of questions. Are you budgeted to pick up those deficits? That is an issue which I know the committee will want to deal with. If it is your government's intention to increase accountability and increase the non-profit grid, then I think the committee has a right to go into the area of to what extent you are looking at the fiscal accountability, since they are moving more into a monopoly situation for the services in this province.

Hon Mrs Boyd: We can certainly provide the information we have. As I said to you at the time we discussed this in the Legislature, we collect the data in a different way than you were asking for. We collect them by region. At the present time, the most recent information we have is that the number of for-profit and non-profit centres that closed are exactly the same, 47 centres each; slightly more spaces in the for-profit sector than in the non-profit sector. Again, as we said before, we treat these operations as transfer payment agencies and so we do not pick up those costs.

Mr Jackson: I know the explanation. My question was the deficits.

Hon Mrs Boyd: It is only where we are acting to try to maintain the centre, because of the lack of child care and the alternatives that are available to parents, that we pay any dollars out to maintain the centre.

Mr Jackson: So can you give us the list.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Jackson.

Mr Jackson: My final question.

The Chair: No. You have had your final question. Mr Bisson.

Mr Bisson: Thank you, Mr Chairman. It is nice that you are very diligent with the time that I have left.

I would like to pick up on a couple of things. I just want two or three points very quickly. One of the things you said, Minister, was in answer to the questions that were posed by the members of both parties in the opposition in regard to the consultation process. I know myself, as the member for Cochrane South, I have met with parent groups, I have met with private operators, I have met with the people who deliver the service, and you are right: There is a split on how we look at this issue. I think you cannot dodge around that. The reality is there are many people out in the society who believe both arguments. They believe public funds should be utilized in the non-profit sector, and in the same way, there are people within our society who believe otherwise.

The problem I have is that I heard mentioned here today by members of the opposition that when the government, whatever that government is, goes out and does consultation, works with the affected groups and comes to a decision, the charge is always made that somehow the government or someone has not listened. The point I want to make is this: Is it a question of not listening or is it a question that what they have heard is not what they want to hear?

The analogy would be that if we go out and consult with all the people in this room, if all of us sit here and discuss this issue at full length, we all give our particular opinions on it and a decision is made. Let's say this half of the room is against it and this half of the room is for it, and the government makes a decision, because after all that is what we are charged with as politicians, making decisions that are going to be affecting the public policy of this province. If we turn around and make that decision either for or against, 50% of you will be opposed to that decision. I just want to make it clear for the public record: It is not a question that people are not listening. The question is, we are charged as governments to go out and make decisions for the public good. Obviously, there will be people on either side of the argument who will say, "I'm for," "I'm against," and "If I'm against, I'm going to run against you," or whatever. That is fair; that is democracy. That is what it is all about.

To get back to the real point, I guess where I have a bit of problem with this -- you mentioned it at the very beginning. I am one of those people who has been involved in the New Democratic Party for a long time, such as yourself. I always believed in the policy of the party, which is, if we are going to utilize public dollars in order to give a service that is seen as being something for the common good of the people within our society, we should try to do that within the non-profit sector, to do that directly through that type of mechanism.

I remember back in 1987 being quite happy with the decision that was made by the then Liberal government to go ahead and once again borrow a little bit of NDP policy and put it into action in government legislation. I was happy because I thought there was a recognition of that point on the part of the Liberal government -- and actually all those members who sit on this committee were members of that government at that time -- that we needed to plan how we were going to deliver day care services within this province. The best way we can ensure that we are able as a government to control policy in how we deliver that service is to go into the non-profit mode.

I do not think it is a question for us, nor was it for the government of the day, that there was a philosophical difference against people in the private sector. It was not a question of profit or not making money; it was a question that we wanted to ensure that we found ways as a government then, in 1987, as we believe today that we have to find a mechanism by which we are able to deal with the issues of quality and delivery of service. I was glad at the time.

What I have a real problem with -- and I am going to take a run at the opposition with this -- is sitting here as a committee member today, five years after the date of March 24, 1987, where the government of the day said that it believed -- and these are quotes from you, Mrs Poole -- "Profit day care centres we do not feel should be publicly funded," and a whole number of quotes. If you look at the standing committee Hansard of that date, that was the position the Liberal caucus took at that time.

Ms Poole: That is not what I said.

Mr Bisson: Excuse me. It is the public record, March 4, 1987, the select committee --

Mr Perruzza: You can look it up.

Mr Bisson: It was on the Hansard. It is not only your quote but also quotes from people of your caucus standing here today. The point is, at that point they took a position that I thought was quite progressive. I agreed with what the government of the day did and I remember being within my riding association and talking to people inside my community and saying: "They've got it right, darn it. Good for them."


Mr Bisson: It is my 10 minutes.

Ms Poole: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I would ask for Mr Bisson to provide that Hansard in its entirety, since he has selectively taken words out of context.

The Chair: That is not a point of order.

Ms Poole: But it is a request, Mr Chair.

Mr Bisson: I guess the question I am getting to is that there is obviously a political discussion going on around this whole issue and there is a bit of posturing, I guess, on both sides. That is what politics is sometimes about, and I guess that is why people tend to get dissuaded from politicians to a certain extent, because they see us flipping around on those decisions. We are all equally guilty when it comes to that; nobody has a monopoly on the perfectness of political posturing.

The point is, why at this juncture in time today, in 1992, are we back into the same argument? Do you have anything to add to that?

Hon Mrs Boyd: I wish I could. I think we have always been clear that we believe public funds should be directed -- the only question, and it is a question we will be asked by our own party, is why we are continuing to grandparent the for-profit sector, frankly. We are saying that is the compromise for us, that we do believe the people who have been providing the care ought to be recognized for that and that we ought to be doing what we can to ameliorate the effects of this decision on them.

I think it is important for us to be very clear that there are a great many people in the child care sector and in our own party who are not happy that we are not simply redirecting all the funding to the non-profit sector. We believe it is our responsibility to try to lessen the effect of this on those operators who were grandparented under the previous Liberal policy, that it is not fair for us in fact to attack those providers who have been providing good care and continue to provide good care to the children of Ontario.


Mr Bisson: I just want to pick up on one thing. I have about a minute. One of the things that really shocked me, because when people within my riding came to me and asked me questions directly on where policy was going since 1987 -- you touched on something that really struck me and it is true. There is a real lack of data out there to take a look at what some of the information is, to take a look at delivery of service within the private sector versus delivery of service within the non-profit sector. I believe there is good and bad on either side. Nobody has a monopoly. But I think there are some fundamental questions that need to be answered by looking at how some of those data correlate in regard to what is happening within a sector.

You touched on it before that there was not anything really there before as far as a system for picking up the data, for taking a look at costs in regard to the amount of spaces out in the system and also taking a look at some of the quality issues. You said that the ministry is now starting to correlate that. I have seen some of that information from our local ministry people up in Timmins. It is starting to tell a bit of the story, but it is not really complete and I just want to know where we are going to go with that. What is the long-term policy in regard to really monitoring what is happening within a sector?

Hon Mrs Boyd: We simply have to be better at it. We in fact have allowed the system to grow without systematically evaluating and monitoring what goes on, and we are trying to work very quickly. We do have some more clues than we did before. We do have a very good literature review that has now been done that picks up some of that issue. It shows very clearly that there are some questions around quality in terms of differentials between for-profit and non-profit and it also shows in terms of cost. The recent study that was done in Metropolitan Toronto comparing costs showed that the community-based non-profit sector is definitely the most economical per unit to offer child care and that the for-profit sector is more expensive and that municipally run child care is the most expensive.

We are gathering those kind of data. We think it is very important that we have these kinds of data, and I continue to be rather dismayed with the fact that we cannot show longitudinally over time, over the time the two previous governments were doing this, the kind of picture that would really help us with this. We are saying that we recognize that in the absence of those data, it is our responsibility to do the monitoring from henceforth.

The Chair: Mr White, there is about a minute.

Mr White: I have just one brief issue, and it was brought up before, that municipalities want to divest themselves of the provision of child care services. In my community, in Durham region, I know the chair of the social services committee and the commissioner of social services extremely well. I am shocked to have heard that they want to divest themselves of offering those services. I think the quality of the child care services offered in Durham is exceptional. I just want to know if there is any clarification about that. Is this true across the province, that municipalities at a regional and local level want to divest themselves of those services? Certainly I think they are one of the prime tools for the operating of day care. Certainly the ministry does not directly operate the day care services. I am wondering if you could clarify that.

Hon Mrs Boyd: There is a difference of opinion. We have a number of communities that have put us on notice that they are simply going to pull out of offering subsidized care. One in particular is Grey county, for example, which has said very clearly that it does not want to continue to participate. There are other municipalities, like the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, like Ottawa-Carleton, like Durham, that certainly have indicated that although they are unhappy about the cost-sharing and the increased pressure on property taxes -- to be funding child care out of property taxes creates real pressures on them as municipalities -- the commitment to a local level of input into the provision of child care is very important to them. The maintenance of quality, the sense that it is part of the partnership they have in community, seems to be important to them.

So no, I do not think there is a consensus around how we are going to decide both the jurisdictional and the funding issues. That is what we are doing at the disentanglement table. We are talking very frankly about what it would mean. How would local input be meaningful if the funding component were not there? That is undecided. There are many different ideas around how that might go. Are we in fact looking for some other mechanism to ensure that there is community input into planning so there is a conjunction between the planning of child care and the planning of a new subdivision, the planning of a school and the planning of the child care centres that would feed into that school? That needs to be done at a local level. We are concerned as a province to find ways that kind of public input can be made in a meaningful way as well. So that is why there is not a consensus of opinion at the table at this point in time.

The Chair: On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank you for appearing before us this morning. I know your schedule is very busy and fitting these kinds of things in is sometimes difficult, so we appreciate your time. Before you leave, research was interested in having your review of the literature you mentioned. If that is available, I think it would be valuable to our researcher.

Hon Mrs Boyd: Yes, we could certainly arrange for that. I do not know whether you also want a copy of the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto. This was a jointly funded study that was done with Toronto. I have a copy of that here, but I do not have the literature study. We will get it to you.

The Chair: Thank you. The committee will adjourn. I know I do not need to remind members, but we reconvene at 2 o'clock. We do have presenters, so if we could have members here as close to the time as possible, it would be appreciated.

The committee recessed at 1215.


The committee resumed at 1408.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I have a request. Is it possible for Mr Gardner to introduce the members of the ministry staff, or the minister's staff, who are present this afternoon?

The Chair: Mr Gardner is from legislative research.

Mrs Marland: Oh, pardon me. Is there someone here from the ministry who can introduce the staff?

Mr Bisson: Why would we want to get into that?

Mrs Marland: I think the question is in order. I am just interested to know if there are ministry staff here, and if so, who they are. Is there only one person from the ministry here?

Interjection: As observers?

Mrs Marland: In any capacity; staff members of the ministry.

The Chair: I think, Mrs Marland, we will just continue with the proceedings.

Ms Poole: Just before we begin, I would like to table a report with the committee. It is the Fourth Report of the Select Committee on Education, which dealt with early childhood education. The minister made extensive reference to it today. I would like to table the whole report for members' information. Although it did not directly deal with this issue, it did deal with the periphery. I want to read just one paragraph:

"There are many facets of child care that are beyond the scope of our deliberations. We will not comment on licensing, regulation, funding, the balance of public and private provision, and overall policy development. Our main focus is on the interrelation of the educational and child care systems and how children's learning experiences in the different settings can be integrated and enhanced."

So while I appreciate the minister's comment, the select committee on education did not provide any of the research material she was referring to when she made her December 2 announcement.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Poole. I am sure all members of the committee will appreciate the report.


The Chair: This afternoon we have a number of presenters coming before the committee. Our first presentation will be made from United Voices for Fair Treatment in Child Care; Jackie Cousins, chair. I welcome you to the committee and point out that we have 40 minutes for your presentation, which will be closely and carefully watched, the exact time. The committee would appreciate some time to ask questions. As a suggestion, if your presentation is in the neighbourhood of 20 minutes, that allows the members about 20 minutes to discuss that presentation with you. Perhaps you would like to introduce yourselves for the purposes of Hansard.

Mrs Cousins: My name is Jackie Cousins, chairperson for United Voices for Fair Treatment in Child Care. With me today is Ellen --

Mrs Versteeg-Lytwyn: Versteeg-Lytwyn. I am a parent and I am a member of United Voices as well.

Mrs Cousins: We would like to thank the members of the standing committee on general government for giving us this opportunity to discuss here today the impact of the NDP's child care policies on parents and child care staff, taxpayers and owners.

United Voices is a non-profit organization of parents, child care staff, owner-operators and taxpayers, all of whom share a vision of an affordable, accessible, flexible system of quality child care in Ontario which recognizes parents as owning the responsibility for deciding who cares for their children, treats all participants in an equal and non-discriminatory manner, is responsive to the needs of children and families and is accountable to the taxpayers of Ontario.

We believe Bob Rae's decision to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into the non-profit child care sector over the next five years will result in a predictable demise of up to 645 privately operated child care centres. In addition to our membership, members of local, provincial and federal governments, community-based groups, ratepayers' associations and parent groups have all denounced Rae's plan to make child care delivered only by non-profit entities.

All of the aforementioned believe Bob Rae's child care plan will essentially create another expensive bureaucracy, lead to a less efficient system of poorer quality child care, reduce parental choice, result in significant job losses and business closures, thereby decreasing tax revenues and creating a further strain on taxpayers, and lead to less child care spaces than what we have now.

Instead of spending money on bricks and mortar, United Voices urges the Premier and his honourable Minister of Community and Social Services to target child care tax dollars directly to those parents now waiting for fee assistance in order to access quality child care, and on the improvement of the enforcement of the Day Nurseries Act in order to uniformly improve quality.

In light of our huge deficit, declining provincial revenues and increasing unemployment, it is illogical for Bob Rae to even consider spending hundreds of millions of scarce tax dollars simply to change the ownership and control of existing quality child care services in the private sector, built at no cost to the taxpayer. What guarantee is there that parents will still have care for their children? Why should the 30,000 children now in private centres have to face the possibility of separation from their familiar surroundings, their friends and their trusted care givers?

It is impossible to predict how many spaces we will lose, or which ones. What will be the cost to taxpayers to replace these spaces and what are parents and their children supposed to do in the meantime if alternatives are not available? The NDP conversion plan could put thousands of parents at risk of being left without child care or having to accept poorer quality care for their children. Thousands of child care workers, most of them women, will be at risk of losing their jobs, seniority and benefits.

We wonder if another example exists in history where a government has spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars to effectively shrink the level of service and put people out of work.

Bob Rae's plan to make all child care non-profit by forcing private centres out of business through subsidization of competing non-profit centres, the wage enhancements, pay equity, bail-out funding, operating grants or any other program Rae may come up with, has not adequately considered the terrible impact it will have on the real people out there: the children, the parents and the workers.

The fact is, Bob Rae and Marion Boyd have yet to satisfactorily answer why they want to spend our tax dollars to replace or eradicate existing quality child care services, wanted and needed by the community.

Quality is not an issue. The former Minister of Community and Social Services admitted, "I am aware that there are for-profit child care programs in Ontario that provide good quality care and meet parental expectations." A senior civil servant in the child care branch attested that she did not see a problem with private centres. An excerpt from Metropolitan Toronto's 1986 Blueprint for Child Care Services states, "In Metro's experience, the provision of quality care has no direct relationship to whether the program is a commercial or not-for-profit operation."

Bob Rae believes that the non-profit sector ensures greater accountability. Why is it then that so many non-profit centres are in debt? What controls are in place to ensure the financial responsibility of public funds? Why is it that the largest non-profit chain in Metro had to shut down last year after financial irregularities forced Metro to pull more than 300 children from its care?

Accountability is a problem in the non-profit child care sector. United Voices includes in its membership child care staff who are still owed months of direct operating grants from non-profit centres. Numerous examples abound where new non-profit centres have received generous capital grants and spent them on lavish items such as imported German lighting, inlaid mosaic flooring and state-of-the-art appliances.

Two years ago, non-profit centres in northern Ontario each found themselves the recipients of a $5,000 toy grant from the Ministry of Northern Development, whether or not the money was needed. Even the Metro Coalition for Better Day Care recognizes that many non-profit centres have difficulty with financial planning.

In 1989, the Provincial Auditor's report disclosed many areas of concern with cost-effectiveness and duplication in the province's provision of child care. In fact, a letter from the Provincial Auditor to one of our members states:

"With respect to your concern for the accountability of licensed non-profit day care centres, this area was a subject of a recent audit by this office. In particular, your concern about inadequate monitoring by the ministry was a major finding of this audit."

A review of provincial child care expenditures over the last five-year period indicates an accountability problem of huge magnitude. For example, child care operating expenditures have increased 166%, from $139 million in 1987 to an estimated $370 million for the 1992 fiscal year-end, yet the number of children actually served in licensed care only increased by 7%, from 114,186 in 1987 to 123,006 at the end of 1991. In fact, fewer children are now in licensed care than in 1988.

Capital and operating combined expenditures have increased by 43% from $333 million in 1990 to an estimated $475 million in fiscal year-end 1992, yet the number of children served has decreased by 12%.

Despite a decline in need for day care since 1990, millions of tax dollars continue to be spent on building new non-profit centres, particularly in areas where there are spaces in existing facilities. For example, in Richmond Hill we saw the development of 11 new non-profit day cares in 1991, despite spaces being available in established centres. In Hamilton, seven new non-profit centres opened in 1991, the same year that 12 centres closed, six of these being non-profit and previously built with tax dollars. Yet in February 1992 the Ministry of Community and Social Services announced $400,000 in funding to create another 42 non-profit child care spaces in Hamilton. Where is the accountability?


United Voices requests a full-scale audit by the Provincial Auditor on child care spending by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Education. Perhaps an audit will also confirm or deny the existence of shadow funding for non-profit centres in debt. All major child care expenditures should immediately be put on hold until such time as an audit is completed and procedures are put in place to ensure accountability in child care spending. This includes the recently announced $350 million five-year package in new annual wage enhancement funding for non-profit staff workers and the one-time funding for buyouts of existing private centres or replacement of private spaces.

Additionally, a full-scale public referendum should be conducted to determine whether or not the public feels the money spent on conversion, replacement of lost spaces and propping up of nonviable non-profit centres is more effective and publicly accountable than being spent on providing fee assistance to help children now on waiting lists to access the empty day care spaces in existing centres.

As a final point, Marion Boyd has publicly stated several times that she believes child care should be an extension of the public education system. Two major discussion papers dealing with young children, The Early Years and Child Care Reform, strongly suggest the shifting of responsibility for child care, including junior kindergarten, from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education.

We believe the impact of such a shift on families and children would be tremendous. This would include:

The majority of funding for child care would be derived from the regressive property tax base. Persons on fixed incomes, such as senior citizens, would be penalized. Child care would become another downloaded program for municipalities to fund.

Child care will become more costly to provide. Staff salaries and benefits will increase substantially. "Accessible to all" will mean building full- and part-time day care spaces to accommodate 1.7 million children, up from the present 120,000. Almost 200,000 new child care staff would have to be hired.

If only one half of Ontario's 1.7 million children under the age of 12 were to use a "free" child care system under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, United Voices estimates the construction costs at approximately $9 billion and annual operating costs at $4 billion. This translates into a tax increase of almost $2,500 per household to build and over $1,000 each year to operate. These estimates do not consider increased costs from pay equity requirements.

Presently over half of all families do not require any form of outside child care, and only 10% of all families with children under the age of six currently use centre-based care, the model used by the educational system. Child care under the Ministry of Education would lend itself to empire-building and rigidity. Parental control would be diluted. There may be an emphasis on school-like activities instead of age-appropriate skills.

The closing of local child care and nursery school programs would be affected. The loss of property tax revenue from the existing 645 private centres is estimated at $2 million annually. Other tax revenues lost, including income taxes, business taxes and sales taxes, are estimated at $10 million annually.

Conflicts with school operating schedules would abound. Child care requires 10- to 12-hour days, year-round.

Needs of children aged infant to five differ greatly from those of older children. Exposure to large institutionalized settings are not beneficial in many cases. Child care in schools would lead to reduced flexibility, parental choice and parental involvement.

I would just like to comment, after hearing part of this morning's testimony with the honourable minister. I would like to say that parents spend a great deal of time when selecting their child care arrangements. It is a parent's greatest fear to think that a child care arrangement is not suitable for him or her, for his or her children or not safe or of quality. When a parent does find an arrangement that is appropriate to him or her, he or she will do almost anything to maintain it. We now have 30,000 parents who have gone through the process, a very educated process -- there is nothing more important in a parent's life then his children -- to select a centre. Whether it is non-profit or private or home care or a neighbour or grandmother is irrelevant. The point is this parent has selected it because it is best suitable for him and his family.

The fact that this initiative puts those children at risk and those parents with the possibility of losing these chosen arrangements is detrimental to all families involved, and we feel that governments do not have to make these decisions for us. You have a lot of educated parents out there. You have not heard from them because they have been too busy working, so you have other groups that have different interests, but if you want to hear from a parent voice, you will most definitely be hearing more from us, because as soon as parents understand that their arrangements are in jeopardy of being lost, you will have a large-scale revolt on your hands. With that, I would like to turn the mike over to Ellen.

Mrs Versteeg-Lytwyn: Thank you for this opportunity. You have been told my name is Ellen Versteeg-Lytwyn, and I am a parent user of a private child care centre in Mount Albert, Ontario. My parents came to Canada, specifically Ontario, 40 years ago, with seven children under the age of 10, because Canada and Ontario represented, among other things, opportunity, free enterprise and freedom of choice. The reason I appear before you today is because I am gravely concerned that my right to choose as it relates to my day care is about to be taken from me.

Children are indeed our most valuable resource. Everyone has a right to bear children and those children have rights. It is our collective responsibility to ensure those rights. As today's life dictates that most families require two incomes, and no longer just for the second car or the luxuries -- I do not have to tell you that -- one of the rights I feel is inherent is safe, quality care for our children.

I was asked to specifically address my concerns as a parent in the event that Mount Albert Child Care Centre is forced to close. Let me tell you why I chose Mount Albert Child Care Centre. First and foremost, they offer a loving program in a safe environment. Second, also very important to me in my rural location, is that this day care centre is on the bus route serviced from the school my children attend 10 kilometres away. Last, certainly not least, the fees they charge are affordable for me in my present circumstances. No other licensed child care centre in my area offers me that.

I, like so many others, made the assumption that non-profit day care meant cheaper day care. I think I was wrong. I did a straw poll among my contemporaries, whom I would consider to be of average or above average intelligence, and I asked the question of them, "What does universal non-profit child care mean to you?" Most of them were correct in their assumption of universal meaning to be accessible by all. But they all felt that non-profit was going to mean cheaper for them. Perhaps for some, perhaps for a few; I do not think so for me.

The dilemma I will find myself in as a result of the day care having to close will be not only that I will not have a day care to go to, but I will have to support through higher taxes a system I can no longer afford to use because my net income will be reduced. I cannot afford a penny more than I presently pay for my day care.


The private centres going out of business will mean a reduction in the municipal tax base. So who is going to make up the slack? Guess who? The middle-income earner, me and thousands of others, in my personal income taxes and also in my property taxes. The equation does not equate, ladies and gentlemen.

Now I have another problem. Where do I get day care? To add insult to injury, I may be forced to use a private, non-licensed, probably -- and I know you do not want to hear this -- non-taxpaying care giver. The insult is further compounded by the fact that this care giver is in all likelihood providing a deduction for her spouse. Is this what we have in mind with these propositions, ladies and gentlemen? I do not think so, and I have serious problems with the concept.

I am concerned that the proposed changes are being contemplated without a proper review and study. Look before we leap. It is extremely difficult to undo the damage when it is done. Before making changes, examine the present system, determine what, if any, problems exist, and let us formulate viable solutions to the problems together.

I hear there are 5,500 empty spaces in the city of Toronto. Can they not be used in some productive manner to help the people who are without child care? Speak to the users and the workers in the system, but more important than that, please listen to what they are saying. This is critical. Where we do not have a problem, do not tamper. Leave it alone. Don't fix it if it ain't broken.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are contemplating regulations which may effectively have great impact on something that is of utmost importance to me: the right to choose the day care environment my children will be in; my right to choose. Don't you dare take that away from me. I thought George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was merely the title of a disturbing fiction.

In closing, I for one, like many others, am tired of government telling me: "This is for your good. This is for your benefit." I think that is my decision to make. I think it is incumbent upon the government, which is proposing these regulations, to demonstrate to me patently what those benefits are. The way I see these proposals affecting me and thousands upon thousands of other parents like myself is higher taxes, no day care and no choice. This is not acceptable to me.

Also, if I may, I understand that this child care reform paper is proposing that my fees in this Utopian system will be directly related to my income. So now someone is going to tell me what I can afford to pay for day care? I do not need anyone to tell me what I can afford to pay for day care. I thank you for listening.

Mr Jackson: First of all, may I commend you for a well-thought-out brief, and concise and brief, all the elements we try to strive for, especially when our researcher has to wade through all this and put it in a report by week's end.

You were perhaps present when the minister this morning responded to some questions. Perhaps the most disturbing new bit of evidence I heard this morning, and I would like to get your reaction to it, is that when I asked her about the growing number of non-profit centres that are operating in deficit and closed -- there are those closing; then there is a whole whack of them that are operating in deficit -- she implied that there was additional support to maintain those operations. How do you feel as taxpayers that we are now introducing a third level of funding from the province to maintain day care centres while at the same while, with less total funding, you are struggling to survive with your centres that both of you choose to put your children in? How do you feel as a taxpayer with that? We have a bad situation, but it appears after the minister's commentary that there is even more hidden subsidy flowing.

Mrs Cousins: I would like to respond to that. It tells me that child care expenditures are out of control. It tells me that the cost of child care will continue to climb. When I look at the private sector situation, where the incoming revenues are relatively fixed, where they adhere to the same regulations as they do in the non-profit sector, and yet in the non-profit sector the costs are increasing who knows how many times -- two times, three times -- there is just no control and no accountability in this whole sector. As a taxpayer, I am extremely fearful that should we now allocate an additional $350 million in one pot, and perhaps more in another, we have no idea how much child care delivery will cost us.

Mr Jackson: The next question has to do with this concept of scrutiny of and accountability by the public sector. How accessible do you find the management of the centres to which your children participate on the issues of information, the parents' exchange of information? I have my opinions because I am a consumer of day care services in this province and I have had an opportunity to see the correspondence and to be able to step in and talk to the teachers and the owners. The minister made a large point of that this morning, more so than the government has in the past. How do you feel about that point, given that she is essentially responding by saying that somehow that type of day care is better because it has that component to it, implying that it does not exist in the day care you are involved in?

Mrs Cousins: I participate in my day care on a daily basis. I talk to the director and my child's teachers every single day. If I have a problem, it is rectified within the next day. I would be fearful of having to talk to a board of directors and perhaps not getting my problem, if I had one, attended to immediately, on a same-day basis. I would not want to wait for the next monthly meeting and talk to people who have no idea who my children are or have any knowledge of them. I think that is a red herring. I think all parents are involved on a daily basis.

Mrs Versteeg-Lytwyn: If I may add to that as well as a parent-user, I guess the key is communication, as it is in any situation you are in. The communication I have with the owner-operator of my centre is 110 per cent. Again, if we have a problem, it is addressed. If there is a question on programming, it is addressed. She is accountable to me as a parent and as her client. That relationship works very effectively.

Mr Jackson: The other question I have has to do with her reference this morning to equity and her moratorium on conversion. It strikes me that where the minister offered no hope to the women workers who are working in private centres in Ontario -- she offered no consideration for their plight in terms of simply being severed and loss of all their seniority rights -- by having a moratorium the outcome in many cases will be that the centre simply closes and that reconstituting that environment as a non-profit centre is at risk because the staff will have to go on unemployment and will dissipate. The new corporate board is not obligated to first-hiring rules. So really the employees get screwed over, if you do not mind the expression, under this schematic that the government has come up with. The children suffer because of the school-phobic tendencies that occur when you have multiple teachers during a given school year, and that is valid empirical research, which has been done, for three- and four-year-olds as for six- and seven-year-olds.

It strikes me that there is no win even in the conversion process now that the games and the rules have changed, that you have even less choice than if you can at least maintain the same teacher. That teacher who has bonded with the child is being told: "You're no longer needed here. We're going to bring in employment equity, and because you're not fitting the equity model, you're gone. We'll be bringing somebody else in to fill that spot." How do you feel about that? I am just seeking a response.

Mrs Cousins: The most important concern to me is my child's teachers. The teachers he has now are super. They know my children. I support them 100 per cent. If those teachers have to leave, for one reason or another, then I do not know what I will do, because to me, there is no better peace of mind than knowing that my children are being cared for by warm-hearted, caring people, and I know that a turnover in staff is a detriment to children.


Ms Harrington: First of all, I would like to address one of the comments you make in your brief, that the funding for child care would be derived from a regressive property tax base. Just to set the record straight, there is certainly no intention in the long term to have that funding come out of the property tax base. We know that is a problem.

As you may know, there is a Fair Tax Commission reporting soon. We find the process of disentanglement of provincial funding and municipal funding is a problem in many areas, and certainly we do not want to get day care into that problem.

I think you would certainly have to agree with me, and you have agreed, that day care is very important. As a parent, I certainly know it made a difference to me, whether or not I stopped working; I was that upset about not having adequate child care arrangements. When I found a good private day care -- this is many years ago -- it made so much difference to my life.

The problem I feel with the day care situation is, how can you have sufficient wages to pay people adequately and also have an affordable fee? Those two things just do not seem to come together. If I could see it coming together, then certainly we would have an answer there.

You liken the non-profit board, as the minister has mentioned, to a school board, or the system to the school system. I do not think the non-profit board is like that. I think it is more like a hospital board, which is a community board that is not run by the government. The decisions are made by that community board. This is not a system that is run by the government; it is run by those who are on that local board.

You mentioned how lucky you are to have quality day care and how primary that is to our children, as well as ourselves, and that this choice is so important. I feel that is what this government is here to do, to provide that choice, so many people like you and I may have the opportunity to make that choice. I even had the choice to quit my job if I did not find adequate child care. But I am saying there are many people who do not have that choice and our government's position is to try to provide more opportunity for that choice. I think we have a right to care and that is what this is all about.

There are two things you said that I noted down which I think are very important. You have said, first of all, "Speak to the users and providers in the system." That is what I intend to do, as well as the people who are going around from the ministry consulting now. Second, "Make usage of the spaces that are available." It does not make any sense in this economic climate going out there and building new spaces. We have to utilize what we have. I invite you to make sure that you are involved as much as possible in our consultation on how we go about this system.

Mrs Cousins: I would like to respond to a couple of those points. I agree with you that quality child care options should be available to all parents. However, the problem in the direction of the proposed child care reform that the NDP is taking is that the emphasis is not on providing quality care for all parents; the emphasis is on changing ownership of existing quality services.

Our point is this: There are already approximately 30,000 families using private services that have already chosen them for one reason or another. Our problem is that it is these children and these families that are at risk of losing their centres, of having them shut down because they cannot convert or will not convert and having the children affected and also the staff possibly lose their jobs, their seniority and their benefits. That is where the problem is. Government should concentrate on providing quality care in areas where it is needed throughout Ontario, not on spending all kinds of money on effectively creating the demise or takeover of existing services.

On your point about the consultations, the problem with the child care reform consultations is that several key issues have already been decided. They are decided without any public input. These are that a non-profit system is the preferred method of delivering child care. That is not open for debate. The problem is that if you were to poll the majority of Ontarians, we already have Gallup polls that suggest Ontarians prefer the current mix of delivery agents -- private, non-profit, home care -- and this whole issue has been bypassed in child care reform. The major point being asked is how to collect parent fees. I do not feel I have any formal vehicle for my input to say: "No, wait a second. Non-profit child care is an alternative. It is not the only one." So I do see a a huge problem with that whole consultation process.

In regard to your point about the staff salaries, I know that we have made great strides in the last three or four years or so in bringing these salaries up, but I suggest the direct operating grants are a very effective use of tax dollars to keep parent fees within reasonable limits and at the same time give increases to staff salaries. I think this is a much more effective use of funds than rebuilding an entire system, direct-funding it, with the possibility of huge cost increases as we have noted before.

Ms Poole: Thank you very much for your presentation this afternoon. We found it quite helpful. What I would like to do is show a real example of a private child care centre and how this policy is going to affect it. The previous Liberal government introduced a policy where the expansion was going to be in the non-profit sector, and existing private child care centres would still be entitled to have moneys for raising child care workers' fees, lowering parental fees and also obviously to have subsidized children in their centres.

Let's look at what the main difference is between that proposal and what Marion Boyd announced on December 2. My understanding is that one of the biggest problems is with the fact that they will no longer have any new subsidies within the private child care centres. For instance, if you have a child care centre with 15 children and you lose three or four of them by attrition, because they have moved or they have outgrown the need for child care, then you will not be able to replace that with other subsidized spaces and you will not be able to continue to operate. Am I right? Is that part of the problem?

Mrs Cousins: That is one of the methods of forcing closure of private centres. Of course it is a problem. It is very predictable what the result of such a policy will be on the private centres and the children who are there.

Ms Poole: This morning the minister said very clearly that they were not forcing it, but it seems to me the reality is that if you will not be allowed to have your subsidized children in that centre, even if you can retain the ones who are currently being subsidized, just by attrition you are going to lose a certain number. You cannot replace them. You cannot get enough full-fee-paying parents to make up the difference and you just cannot afford to operate. That is the scenario I see. Is that reality? Is that what is going to happen to you?

Mrs Cousins: That policy will put many centres into the ground. There is no doubt that without subsidy children coming through and giving parents the choice to go to whatever centre they wish -- they should not be told they can only go to one or another -- it does not take an Einstein to figure out the result of such a policy. It is very plain.

Ms Poole: I have also talked to a number of day care operators who are really concerned about the effect on staff. Obviously if the differential between the private sector child care workers and the non-profit sector child care workers continues to widen, that means the private child care workers are eventually going to be leaving those centres, because they just cannot be competitive with the wages. Have you heard from workers, from staff, that they are afraid of this? Do you think this is going to be very bad for your staff morale?


Mrs Cousins: Absolutely. We had a survey conducted last May and asked staff to comment on how they felt this policy -- pay equity funding only to non-profit workers -- would affect them, and they all said it will affect their staff morale, cause turnover and effectively create problems for the children in existing centres. It is a very detrimental policy, the results of which are easy to predict.

Ms Poole: Thank you. I think Mrs O'Neill had a question.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Your brief is so clear, so excellent in its focus, that I really do not have a lot of questions. But you have had an opportunity to hone it since we saw you last.

I wanted to ask you a little bit about the staff at the centres you are working with and that your children attend, because you have made it very clear that you chose these centres with a great deal of care. There seems to be a feeling in the community that the staff at the commercial, small business day care centre are not up to the same quality as those in the not-for-profit. That is a pervasive rumour across the province. I want to give you both an opportunity to say a little bit about what you know about your staff's qualifications and why you have such a faith in them that you would say you stand by them completely in the care of your children. You did make that statement earlier, so I would like you to respond if you could.

Mrs Cousins: Do you want to say something? Go ahead.

Mrs Versteeg-Lytwyn: You have been doing a lot of the talking. I will give you a break. First of all, the insinuation that the staff is of a lesser calibre or quality is utter nonsense. I am a professional. I go to business and I expect professionals in my life everywhere, including my day care centre. But the bonus for me is that at my day care centre they are truly a loving family. We care about each other. You would have to go there, really, ladies and gentlemen. We are a family. There has not been one person leave that centre since I have been going there. The centre I was in before --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You mean staff, or parents?

Mrs Versteeg-Lytwyn: Staff; parents, maybe by way of losing their employment, which forces them out of day care. Everybody on my street said, "Have you been to Mount Albert child care?" It is totally amazing. It is so encouraging. My greatest fear is my child care. When I go to business in the morning, I have a responsible position to not have that worry about my kids. I cannot tell you what a relief it is. And the insinuation that they are of less -- I take exception.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: So this staff have qualifications that you -- okay. Sorry, my time is up.

The Chair: Sorry. The time has been allocated and it has expired. We appreciate your presentation very much. Thank you for coming.

Ms Poole: Mr Chair, while our next presenters are getting themselves settled, I wonder if I could ask the ministry for a point of clarification. In the last presentation, they used the figure $350-million five-year package. I know there has been a lot of confusion around the ministry announcement, whether it was $75 million as a total for five years or $75 million per year. My understanding is that it is $75 million total spread over five years. I just wondered if we could have that clarification because I think it is quite important that we operate with the right figures.

The Chair: Is there someone from the ministry who could clarify that for us?

Interjection: I believe it is total.

Ms Poole: That is my understanding.

Interjection: Could you repeat that, please?

Ms Poole: The previous presentation used the figure $350 million for five years. One could interpret the minister's announcement to be $75 million per year for five years or $75 million total over the five years, and it was my understanding it was $75 million total over the five years.

The Chair: Just for the purposes of our Hansard, could you come up to one of the microphones?

Mr Mammoliti: Just say "yeah."

Ms Poole: And your name.

Ms Ostrowska: My name is Sonia Ostrowska. I am with the child care branch, and that is my understanding as well, yes.

Ms Poole: Thank you.

The Chair: Good afternoon. As you may know --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I am sorry, Mr Chairman. Are you suggesting then that the $10 million for replacement for non-profit is spread over five years, so that is $2 million per year?

Interjection: That is right.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Is that what these figures are broken down into?

Ms Bertrand: I think it is unclear whether it will be $2 million per year over the five years or how it will actually get distributed.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I wanted the answers from the ministry. I thought the ministry were the people who were answering.

The Chair: Perhaps we could ask that the ministry --

Mr Mammoliti: Let's get this one straightened out.

The Chair: Perhaps we could ask that the ministry clarify that. If they are not prepared to do it right now, I think we can get the clarification first thing in the morning. Are you prepared to clarify --

Mr Bisson: Mr Chair, from the government side, maybe the best thing to do is that I can get that information, report back to the committee tomorrow morning and make it clear as far as these points are concerned. Would that be acceptable?

The Chair: Yes.

Ms Poole: Let's do that.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: We have to do it --

The Chair: I think it would be best if we had it directly from the ministry, if they could --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: The minister.

Mr Bisson: I will bring that down tomorrow.


The Chair: The next presentation will be made from the Ontario Coalition for Better Day Care: Kerry McCuaig, Carrol Anne Sceviour and Jane Bertrand. Good afternoon. You have 40 minutes allocated for your presentation. You may use the time as you wish. However, the committee always appreciates some time to discuss your presentation with you. Please introduce yourselves for the purposes of our Hansard.

Ms Bertrand: I am Jane Bertrand. I am the president of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and I thank you for the opportunity to address this committee this afternoon.

Since its founding in 1981, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care has advocated for a universally accessible, high-quality, comprehensive, non-profit system of child care. Among the coalition's members are parents, child care workers, child care professionals, social science researchers, teachers' federations, unions, social workers, agricultural organizations, women's organizations, churches and child care programs.

We would like to stress that we do not represent only the non-profit sector in child care. We have non-profit child care programs within our membership, but our membership goes far beyond non-profit programs, encompassing nearly every major organization with concerns for children in this province, and among all these organizations there is a consensus that quality child care can only be effectively delivered through a system which is not driven by the profit motive.

Support for non-profit care has been the long-standing -- in fact, one of the founding -- principles of the coalition. We have been before committees at all three levels of government stressing the importance of this issue, at the local level, provincial committees in the past that I believe you have discussed earlier today and, before the federal government, at least two task forces, if not three.

The last time we were before this committee was five years ago this month, when the direct operating grant was under discussion. At that time the Liberal and Conservative members of the committee issued a report calling for the restriction of future direct government funding to the non-profit sector. The parties also called for a conversion plan in that report.

Tinkering with child care has pretty well reached a dead end. There are 12,000 families waiting for care while 6,500 spaces go vacant. This should be all the data we need to tell us that something is very wrong here. In January 1991, 5,000 subsidies were put into the service by the province. It took a year for the municipalities to bring these subsidies on line, even though the service was experiencing record waiting lists and record vacancies.

Since January 1992, there has been a reversal in the growth of child care. Metro Toronto will decrease its subsidies by 750. Ottawa will not bring on the 500 it planned to. Grey county will cease taking any subsidies; child care programs in its jurisdiction have been told they have until June to become approved corporations, which means they will deal directly with the province and not receive any municipal funding. These stories can be repeated across the province and we have lots of them on file if you are interested.

There have been suggestions that more go into subsidies. I would like to ask the committee, what municipality would pick up new subsidies if they were made available tomorrow? What municipality has the 20% to cost-share? In short, shoring up child care by infusing more subsidies into this system has come to a dead end. It will not work.


Child care workers saw their worth recognized through the wage enhancement grants announced at the end of 1991. In 1992 the same child care workers face wage freezes at best and, in some cases, wage rollbacks. Municipalities, reacting to the 1% increase in transfer payments, have frozen per diem payments, some at 1991 rates and some at 1990 rates. Therefore, what the province gave with the one hand, it and the municipalities have taken back with the other hand. The wage enhancement grant, a move which could have provided fee relief for parents, has been negated. Subsidized parents are paying increased user fees across the province. Full-fee-paying parents are paying more to maintain the viability of the child's program. Subsidized parents are paying increased user fees in many municipalities. Still, programs remain in crisis.

There are several reasons why programs are in deficits. First of all, vacancies are a prime cause. Either subsidies are not available or full-fee spaces are too expensive. In some areas subsidies are available, but unemployment is so high there are no families to access them.

Second, municipalities are not paying the actual cost of child care. This means that even if subsidies were expanded, more subsidies would push a program further and further into deficit. In other areas, programs are not accepting subsidized families because full-fee-paying parents are refusing to subsidize their care. This is causing a serious wedge between fee-paying and subsidized families within the same centre.

That non-profit programs are not closing at the same rate as for-profit programs is often because the families who use the services go to extraordinary lengths to keep them open in the non-profit sector. They fund-raise for their centres because they feel an ownership of their child's care. However, the days of using bake sales to maintain a public service are coming rapidly to an end.

The record shows child care can no longer be tinkered with. Fundamental reform is needed. In 1990 the coalition released its paper Making the Shift to the 1990s. It went out for broad consultation to our own community and related communities. It was presented to all three political parties in the province. Everywhere there was support for the main thrust of the proposals. Those were that child care would become a provincially funded service; programs would be directly funded based on annual budgets reflecting provincial guidelines; recovery costs from parents and other levels of governments would be the responsibility of the provincial government.

It is our contention that this type of model is the only alternative, first, to stabilize child care and then to begin to build a child care system out of the patchwork of services which currently exist and are not working.

With the province directly funding child care programs, the municipal role would be eliminated. Subsidies and the bureaucracies which go with them would be eliminated. The bureaucracy involved in administering three different funding sources would be gone. We maintain this will provide a more streamlined service and eliminate the layers of bureaucracy and inequity which dominate the service across the province. It would ensure that more public dollars go directly into the provision of quality child care programs.

In a directly funded service, is there room for a line in budget allocations reading "profit"? Even if this was to be a small line, we doubt that there would be public support, outside the for-profit operators themselves, for public funding for private profit.

The coalition supports the conversion program the government has put forward, even though the non-profit sector will derive no direct personal benefit from it. We support it because it will soften the dislocation of parents, children and child care workers in the for-profit sector. It will, in the long run, result in higher-quality care in those programs if staff receive the benefits of full direct operating grants and wage enhancement grants and as parents are given an opportunity to participate in the decision-making in their child's early childhood setting.

But we recognize that child care reform can go ahead and take place without conversion. We do not support the concept of grandparenting the 50% direct operating grant for the commercial programs that currently receive them. This is not good use of public dollars. Moreover, it would require a separate bureaucracy for administering the direct operating grant, a grant which will be eliminated as direct funding of programs takes place.

Before moving to questions, I would like to introduce Kerry McCuaig, who is our executive director for the Ontario coalition, and Carrol Anne Sceviour, who is an executive member and represents the Ontario Federation of Labour on our executive.

Mr Mammoliti: Mine is a very quick question. In terms of the government policy, there is another misconception out there that non-profits are the only ones that will benefit, if there is a benefit. Is it only to non-profit, or do other people, other organizations, benefit from our government's policy?

Ms McCuaig: I think we should make clear that no non-profit program which is currently in existence is going to benefit from the conversion plan. The only part of the conversion announcement that was made is the $10.8 million out of the $75 million which will be phased in to help centres that are in a deficit position. The non-profit sector, ie, the broadest and providing the most care in the province, is receiving the smallest amount of that package. Nor is there a desire on the part of non-profit programs to take over existing for-profit centres.

We recently did a survey of our programs, asking them if they would be willing to partner a commercial centre through conversion. The response that we got back was that they would have to think very seriously about undertaking any sort of action because of the quality and the type of care which exists in the commercial setting and the effort which would be required on their part in order to upgrade those services. There is very little interest, in fact no interest, on the part of the non-profit programs to take over for-profit programs.

Mr Bisson: Before asking a question, I want to clarify something. A statement was made about northern Ontario, which I have to come to the defence of, being a northern member. The comment was made about ceramic tiles from Germany being imported into a child care centre in northern Ontario. That was in Sudbury. I would like to point out to people that it was actually the construction of a complex for women in Sudbury having to do with a number of things, covering libraries to a centre for women and including a child care centre. For people to say that the money was allocated to buy ceramic tiles and all kinds of things I think is a little bit misleading.

Mr Jackson: Do not forget the light fixtures.

Mr Bisson: I think the light fixtures were in the library, if I remember correctly.

Mr Mammoliti: Thanks for your input, Cam.

Mr Bisson: The argument is made in regard to --


Mr Bisson: Would you mind? I have the floor, sir.

Mr Jackson: I was not talking to you; I was responding to Mr Mammoliti's comments.

The Chair: We will continue with the question.

Mr Bisson: There are a couple of basic arguments, I guess, when it comes to this whole issue: either you are for it or you are against it. People from the commercial sector who say "We're against the move to the non-profit sector" have a couple of arguments which I think need to be addressed, one of them being the question of quality of care, and the other one being the accountability question.

This reminds me of another debate we had. I remember this as a young child. It is the whole argument of when we went to socialized medicine. The exact same points were put forward at the time. People argued that if we went away from the private medical system that we had at the time, the quality of care would be affected, as well as the whole question of cost being atrocious because governments cannot do anything right anyway, and if the government gets its hooks on it, we know the cost of health care is going to go up. We know now, some 20, 30 years later --

Mr Jackson: How many beds have you closed in your riding?

Mr Bisson: Half as many as you did while you were in government.

The point is that we take a look now. If we look at the cost question, when we compare our socialized medical system to our neighbours in the United States just south of us, we spend one cent on administration versus, in some states, as high as 20 cents on administration out of every health care dollar spent. If we look at a lot of questions of cost, we find out that it is much cheaper to operate socialized medicine than it is to operate it in the profit sector. It is not to say that profit is a wrong thing; the question is that governments have a responsibility to deliver services and have to decide which services are for the public good. I take it the debate we are having is that we are now deciding as a society that child care is something which should come under the umbrella of governments.


On those two questions, can you briefly go through a little, just to put it clearly and explain that a bit, because I have a a hard time getting into that debate. I understand what people are saying, because there are emotions running in this thing, but I do not buy the total argument that, "If it goes into the public sector it will be at a horrendous cost and government will not be able to run it effectively because, God, you know it can't do anything right anyway." Can you speak on that a little? If you look at some non-profit centres, a lot of them are operated as effectively, and probably more effectively, than some private centres.

Ms Bertrand: First, on the accountability question I think you are quite right when you say we are looking at now -- I do not think your government is starting the move towards a non-profit system; I think you are continuing what was started in the previous government.

Mr Bisson: Yes, under Mr Peterson.

Ms Bertrand: Right. It is just continuing along the way. Just as society came to a point 100 years ago that it was time to move to publicly delivered school systems, because it was more effective than piecemealing them, I think we are moving towards the same point with child care, very much what we want. What we in the coalition are proposing is that the system we create be one that is not overly bureaucratized. We want one that remains efficient. Right now, the actual delivery of child care services within non-profit centres, internally, is very efficient, to the point of no administration costs, which may be cutting it a little fine. The point is that non-profit child care programs do know how to deliver administratively cheap programs and maintain high quality and put the money directly into children's services.

In fact, my understanding of the joint review that was carried out between Metro and the province and looked at administrative costs, the non-profit sector fared quite well. Their administrative costs were cheaper than in profit centres in the same region. I think where costs in child care could be reduced, in terms of delivery, is in the three levels of government that are now involved -- the double municipal and provincial roles, in some cases -- and the fact that centres have three different funding sources. By moving towards a public system, I think we can streamline that and put that money directly into services.

Any public service should have built-in accountability, both to the clients -- parents and children who are using the service -- and to the taxpayers.

Mr Bisson: How can that be done?

Ms Bertrand: I think that is one of the purposes of the child care reform consultations, to explore some of those options. Clearly, having local decision-making structures that provide an opportunity to have some decision-making around how funds are allocated and centres are accountable would be one way. I do not have all the answers. I wish I did; it would be easier to write the coalition's response to child care reform, but we are discussing that in our workshops across the province right now.

Mr White: I am curious about this conversion issue. The ministry spoke about that this morning. We have had the United Voices for Fair Treatment in Child Care saying it is opposed, it seems, to a conversion process. You are saying it is really a matter of relative indifference to your group. I cannot understand what the concern is with a group -- the salaries in non-profit centres are better; they are markedly better. The ratio for children is better. Research clearly indicates that this creates a much better environment for the children, a much higher level of quality.

Mr Jackson: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I believe the ratios are dictated by provincial statute.

The Chair: That is not a point of order; it might be a point of information.

Ms McCuaig: Minimum standards are dictated.

Mr White: The issues around quality have only started being addressed, and I think that certainly the responses to the child care reform package should at least give us some initial views on that.

I am curious. You are stating very clearly that your association is in strong support of a non-profit child care system. The funding mechanism you are introducing or suggesting is a large one, which unfortunately I do not have time to discuss today, yet you have many people who own private for-profit centres who are members of your association, you say.

Ms McCuaig: No. For-profit operators do not belong to the coalition. We do have many programs, ie, many non-profit programs, representative boards etc, that belong to the coalition. So we have child care programs, but they are non-profit programs.

Mr White: I see. Okay.

Ms Poole: Thank you for your presentation today. I think what Mr Jackson was trying to get at was that the Day Nurseries Act provides standards for staffing, what toddlers require, what infants require, and all centres, whether private or non-profit, have to adhere to those standards. That is not really what is at issue here.

The other point is that the minister herself this morning said that when she made the policy announcement she did not make it because of a lack of quality on the part of the private centres. Whether the minister believes this or not, what the minister said this morning was that quality was not part of the government's rationale for making its conversion policy.

Ms McCuaig: It may not have been part of the government's rationale, but we support it because it is part of our rationale.

Ms Poole: I would like to ask you about that conversion policy. Back when I was first elected in 1987, it seemed to me about 43% of the centres in Ontario were private versus non-profit. Then the last year we were in government, 1990, I think it was mid-30s. Now the latest facts we have from the Ministry of Community and Social Services show 20% for-profit versus 77% non-profit as the number of centres, although I think actually the private centres would be somewhat higher because that did not include anything set up since 1987. It seems there has been a natural attrition and the number of non-profit centres vis-à-vis private centres is increasing anyway, but without this big outcry and without the private centres feeling they have been stressed to the point where they have to go out of existence.

I am just wondering why your coalition would support $75 million going in -- well, say $65 million.

Ms McCuaig: Sixty-seven.

Ms Poole: Take out the $10 million, which you would like to see non-profit centres bailed out. Why would you like to see that amount of money going into the conversion as opposed to lowering fees, creating more spaces, doing it the way it was done before?

Mr Mammoliti: Did you not support that a few years ago, Dianne?

Ms Poole: I just do not see. If those are the only child care dollars we are going to get over the next five years -- and that is what the minister has indicated -- is this the best way we can spend that money?

Ms Bertrand: I think probably our organization supports it for humane reasons, to try to reduce the upheaval that might be required as we slowly move towards a non-profit system, and as the member over here said, probably for the same reasons you supported it the last time, five years ago I believe, when we went around --

Mr Mammoliti: In 1987.

Ms Bertrand: In 1987, five years ago, for some of those same reasons. We did not actively go out and lobby for a conversion program, but we are not opposed to it. We are not suggesting that should not happen as a way to ease that process, that transition.

Ms Poole: But if it is the only new money coming into child care, is that your first priority for where it should have gone? That is what I am saying.

Ms Bertrand: There will not be any new money.

Ms McCuaig: I guess, Dianne, the point we are trying to make in our introduction is that tinkering with the system has just come to a dead end. Look at what happened with the 5,000 subsidies that went into the system last year. We did not get the bang we were supposed to get out of them. In fact, we are right now seeing a reduction. So putting more money into the system through subsidies is not going to help. That is why we asked the question, "Name us one municipality that if we put out 100,000 subsidies would pick them up."


Mr Mahoney: Mississauga.

Ms Bertrand: But not at a per diem that is viable.

Ms McCuaig: And then there is the per diem problem. You cannot go anywhere, we cannot patch it up any more. We need fundamental reform. This may be the first step to the fundamental reform which is needed because this system is in such a crisis it just cannot be patched up any more. The dam is broken.

If we are going to have a viable system which means that there would be direct full provincial funding to every child care program, then it does become a public policy decision we are making here. Do we put full public funding into programs which operate for profit, even if that profit is small? Are we going to be fully funding with public dollars for-profit programs?

That is the choice we are making right now. We disagree with that. We think there would not be public support -- well, there is not support from our organization; we will see what the public says -- for that to happen.

So the conversion is a first-step stopgap measure, and I also do not think -- we never say die -- this $75 million is the end of what there is for child care. But even if it was, if we took the money which is going into the system now through subsidies and this grant and that grant and the next grant and reorganized it in such a way that it cut out whole layers of bureaucracy that were there, we would actually be able to see more and better child care being purchased for public dollars.

Ms Poole: I just have two comments, first, that there has been a major distinction between my stand in 1987 and today because my major concern in 1987 was, are you going to give money to private centres if they are not going to be opening up their books and be shown to be accountable? One of the things John Sweeney instituted was that accountability and that opening up of the books process, and to me that makes quite a difference in how you look at the problem.

The second point I wanted to make is, it just seems to me that we are putting the cart before the horse. I agree with you that it would be very good to look at reform of the entire system instead of doing these piecemeal, patchwork bits of work on it. However, when the minister makes a fairly major, substantive announcement and announces part of what she is going to do before she even institutes the process of reform, I do not think that is called a long-term vision. I think it is called panicking: making an announcement that she was not prepared for, that she did not have a strategy in place. We are now at the stage where this morning the minister said, in effect, there is a moratorium on the conversion because they do not have any of their plans in place. I do not think that is a healthy way to approach it, and certainly there is a great fear out in the private sector that they are going to be forced out of business. So it comes down to the fact that if private centres, even centres that you would acknowledge provide quality care, are going to be forced out of business when the government has not even set in place its long-term policy, I think that is called patchwork and I think it is creating a crisis where we need not have one.

I think Mr Mahoney had a question at this time.

Ms Bertrand: There is just one point I would like to make; it came up earlier too. I do not think the concern from the commercial sector arose after the December announcement. The commercial sector has been opposing this whole direction over the last -- well, certainly for the length of the existence of the coalition and since the new directions and strategies your government put in place. Their opposition has not just sprung up at the minister's latest announcements.

Ms Poole: Oh, I can certainly agree they were not fond of the policy the Liberal government put into place, but I will tell you, I certainly, in the five years I have been elected, never had the outcry I have had in the last three months from parents, from staff, from private day care operators. There is a lot of fear out there that was not there before. By not providing them any new subsidized spaces they are just saying the writing is on the wall; they are going to be completely squeezed out. The figures I mentioned to you showed it was happening gradually by attrition anyway, so why create a crisis where you did not need one? That is the point I was trying to make.

Ms McCuaig: I completely agree with you, and we have had several discussions with the government about whether it brought on this process in quite a haphazard way and quite a sloppy way. In fact, going into a reform process and the whole reform discussion without having the conversion plan in place does exactly that; it leaves open fears for parents and for operators who are wondering about their future. We are getting plenty of calls, and we have reported them to the government. At least 30 calls have come to our office from operators wanting to convert. They are not getting the information that they should be getting from the area offices on how to do that. We completely agree: You do not announce a policy and then not have the regulations in place to put it on line. So yes, we can agree there.

Ms Poole: Oh, good.

Mrs Cunningham: I guess my great concern as a representative of the public here is to go out to the public and say that since 1988 we have increased the cost of providing child care in the province of Ontario by 166% and yet we have fewer children in licensed spaces, and I am sure that is of great concern to all of us.

Ms McCuaig: Sorry, Dianne, why do you think we have fewer children in licensed spaces?

Mrs Cunningham: There are fewer children now in licensed child care than in 1988.

Ms McCuaig: You mean percentagewise?

Mrs Cunningham: No, real numbers, gross numbers.

Ms McCuaig: Could you share those figures with us, please? They are not the figures we get from the child care branch.

Mrs Cunningham: The delegation before you gave them, and it is not the first time we have heard it. If it is incorrect, then the ministry can come forward and say so right now. The ministry is here. Let's hear it.

Ms Bertrand: Could we see what those figures are?

Mrs Cunningham: I do not want to ask a question if it is incorrect.

Mr Jackson: Not on our time.

Mrs Cunningham: We will do it later. That is a challenge. If it is wrong, I am the first person to be happy to go out -- tell me it is wrong.

Ms Bertrand: It is wrong.

Mrs Cunningham: All right, so there are more children now.

Ms Bertrand: Yes.

Mrs Cunningham: Given the 166% increase, I would be interested in seeing how many more, because that is part of my responsibility too.

With regard to your comment on two things, quality and administrative costs, I would ask you this question with regard to quality. In 1984, the government of the day stressed enforcement of standards. We know the Day Nurseries Act has not been changed. I am wondering what Ontario study that you are aware of did a survey of the quality of care in profit versus non-profit in Ontario since 1984. I wonder if you could tell me about that.

Ms Bertrand: There was a study done in Toronto. I am trying to remember dates and names. There have been studies, and they are summarized in the province's survey of quality done by Gillian Doherty. One of them looked at contraventions to the Day Nurseries Act regulations, 1987; Sharon West did it.

Mrs Cunningham: Since 1986?

Ms Bertrand: Yes, this is all 1987, 1988. That was clear. There was a national study done for the --

Mrs Cunningham: No, just Ontario.

Ms Bertrand: But it included Ontario. Each provincial office responsible for licensing enforcement of child care centres was surveyed, and Ontario was included --

Mrs Cunningham: Since 1984?

Ms Bertrand: For the national task force on child care, which came out with its report in 1987. I think it was struck in 1986. It was also clear.

Mrs Cunningham: I am very much aware of the research, and I have not been convinced.

Ms Bertrand: Then there were studies done for the Katie Cooke task force, which included Ontario.

Mrs Cunningham: I am aware of that one too.

Ms Bertrand: That showed that salaries were 30% lower.

Mrs Cunningham: I just wondered if there was anything more recent, since it took a couple of years to get the enforcement out. I was actually part of it, so I just do not at all share your observations, that is all, from my work in the child care branch.

Ms Bertrand: Okay. The research is fairly clear on it.

Mrs Cunningham: Not recent research; I would say that clearly. Again, the government will get asked the same question, so it can take note of this.

The next one is the point that you made on administrative costs. Where has the research been on the costs of administration of non-profit and profit in the last four years?


Ms Bertrand: In January 1992 the joint review, I believe, was made public.

Mrs Cunningham: Joint review of what?

Ms Bertrand: December 1991 -- it was about a nine-month project to look at the disputed real costs of child care in Metro Toronto. It was carried out by an accounting firm. I am sorry, I have forgotten the name.

Mr White: Coopers and Lybrand.

Ms Bertrand: Right, that was the name of the accounting firm. It looked at the reasons for child care costs, what it cost between municipally directly operated, commercial and non-profit in Metro Toronto.

Mrs Cunningham: Okay, so the strong evidence of both of those things has been two Metropolitan Toronto studies. I am not aware of anything beyond that, but I did notice later on in the day that in fact -- I guess Martha Friendly is on today. She knows what I am going to ask her now, so she has lots of time to do her homework. I really am concerned about the attitude presented by people going around this province saying there is a difference in quality, because I am a firm believer that since 1984 the government of Ontario has been proven to have some of the highest standards. The downside was that there was a tremendous growth in child care from about 1987 to 1990. Basically the child care branch, the area offices and the regional offices were not given the resources -- they did not think so, anyway, and I support them on this -- to do the kind of enforcement that needed to be done.

It is my understanding from the audit branch that I have worked with in the past that in fact the standards have been dealt with. Yes, we have a few private, non-profit centres -- I am not aware of which ones they would be; it would not be very many in the province in the last three or four years -- that we have had some difficulty with. The biggest difficulty is the province not having the courage sometimes to close them down. I think you share my concerns about that. It is very expensive to go through closing down a child care centre. I give the province accolades where it has been able to do it.

As for the administrative costs, I do not think there is a good study on that at all. As a matter of fact, the three centres I am involved in right now that are converting, not in London but in central northern Ontario -- in fact the ministry is asking them to put more administrative staff in to meet what they call their requirements. I will be curious to see what is happening there.

Ms Bertrand: Yes, I suggest you look at that Metro review, because that is recent and I believe --

Mrs Cunningham: The problem is that I come from southwest Ontario. Most of the representatives in the House are not from Metropolitan Toronto. We look at the costs as being somewhat exorbitant here under all circumstances anyway, and rural Ontario, when they come in to present their case here, would not even look at a Metro study. That is why I raise it. I think it is important that you quote it, because it is valuable --

Ms Bertrand: Yes, 40% of the public money on child care is spent in Metro Toronto, so it is an important study.

Mrs Cunningham: I think it is valuable for Metropolitan Toronto, but we are trying to make a decision here for all of Ontario. We are looking at decisions where parents are asking for a choice. Where we have something that is working my great concern would be, at least in the short term, that we not disturb it, because I do not think these are times when we can ask the taxpayers to put this kind of money into conversions and not new spaces. That is where I am coming from. I may even share your point of view in the long term, but certainly in the short term I do not think this is a strong stand that we can take in this province. It is just not affordable.

Ms Bertrand: In terms of the question on enforcement, would you suggest spending more money on enforcement?

Mrs Cunningham: I suggest that the standards being met at this point are more than reasonable with regard to the child care branch and the government itself, as opposed to maybe even five years ago. I think the government of Ontario can probably answer the question better than I can at this time. I have not talked to them in the last six months, but I know a couple of years ago they needed more time spent on enforcement.

Right now there is no new money, so to spend your money in developing new centres as opposed to keeping the centres going that you have now is in my view a waste of money, because we should be bringing on new spaces in new ways. Again, we should be looking for private support. If you are looking at child care in the workplace and asking the private sector to pay for part of that and to subsidize its workers, there has not been, I do not think -- and again I will ask Martha, because I think it is important -- a big takeup of that, but where it does exist, I do not think we should be destroying it.

Ms Bertrand: There is very little commercial child care in workplaces. Most of the child care that exists in workplaces is in the non-profit sector.

Mrs Cunningham: But there is some, and there are some businesses that are doing that work on behalf of their employees, and my point is that I do not think we should disturb it. I think you should be saying that too.

Ms Bertrand: There is very little commercial child care in workplaces. Most of it has been picked up by the --

Mrs Cunningham: There should probably be more. It is more convenient for families, there is no doubt.

Ms McCuaig: Child care in workplaces may be more convenient, but the point is that when workers and companies develop workplace child care, they use the non-profit mode in order to bring it on line. They do not go and hire a commercial operator to develop a child care centre in the workplace.

Mrs Cunningham: I think the point you should be making is that most of them use the non-profit mode.

Ms McCuaig: Almost exclusively, Dianne.

Mrs Cunningham: And that makes it right?

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Cunningham. I would like to thank the --


The Chair: Order. Thank you for appearing before the committee today. Your information was very useful.


The Chair: The next presentation will be made to the committee by the Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario, Judith Preston, president. Good afternoon. Welcome to the committee. We appreciate your taking some time to come and speak with us today. If you would introduce yourselves for the purposes of Hansard, you will have 40 minutes to make your presentation.

Mrs Preston: We are very pleased to be here. I am Judith Preston, the president of the Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario, and with me is Terri Watt, who is an owner-operator from Burlington, Ontario. She is a member of our executive.

We were asked here to discuss the impact on women of the government's policies relating to independent child care centres in that these policies will impose further barriers on women's full and equal participation in the employment market. We see at least three ways in which the current government policies impact upon women's positions in the marketplace.

Of course, the immediate impact affects the person who owns and operates a child care service. There are few, if any, other sectors of business which have such an overwhelming number of women operators. By eliminating the opportunity to own a centre, they stifle the potential for growth and deny women another avenue of self-determination in business. We have seen the number of independent centres erode, from over 900 in 1985 to the current 650, give or take a few. We can only believe that this trend will continue under the current regime. Government policies have been effective. Entrepreneurs are willing to battle the marketplace. They are willing and able to cope with a fluctuating economy, but few among us have the energy, capital and drive to battle the business world as well as enter into competition with a government-sponsored opposition. The women who are in the system will lose everything.

Let us be more specific. The current policy is to provide funding for the purchase of used toys and equipment at depreciated value. You may translate this to mean that the government has established an arbitrary value, not to exceed $1,000 per licensed space, as the purchase price of the entrepreneurial and management skills, the net value of an industry dominated by women. Is this fair? I think not.

To add insult to injury, they say taxpayer-funded agencies do not pay the former owner the full value, the full $1,000; they may use the funds to buy new toys and equipment. The chances that any operator will receive the full $1,000 per space is very small.


The Kapolas-Edwards Child Care Conversion Incentives Study detailed better than I can the issues facing the independent operators. They own or lease buildings. Investment was required to prepare these locations for child care. The requirements of the Day Nurseries Act and the health, fire and building codes are extremely specific. The equipment and toys are certainly worth more than their depreciated value.

Then we come to the intangibles: reputation, future earnings, seniority, education and career expectations, equity, time and effort, loss of salary and benefits, mental distress for being forced out of business by the government, for loss of livelihood and dreams, and the list goes on and on. This government is refusing to recognize these issues. Quite frankly, their refusal to be morally and ethically responsible is more distressing than their actions.

Then there is the impact on the women and men who work in the independent sector. The government and those they have confused will tell you that jobs will be available in the new reformed system. True, but -- and this is a very large "but" -- not immediately and not the same job. Staff will lose job seniority and benefits. They will lose the choice of employment. Please do not fall into believing that staff who work in the independent sector do so because there was not a position in the non-profit sector. That is just not true. Staff are people who have made conscious decisions to work for an independent operator. They wish to remain employed. If the government continues down this path of destruction, these people will lose their jobs. For the lucky ones, the loss will be only that of choice.

The impact cannot be stressed enough. Jobs will disappear. The expertise lost may never return to the sector. It will be a double loss: The individuals will be unemployed, and the sector will lose a valuable asset. Please remember that these numbers are actually individuals with homes, families and children of their own. They are not statistics. The lack of jobs will certainly impact on their ability to participate in the employment marketplace. Remember that not only are we losing our businesses and jobs for this unwanted and unnecessary upheaval; we are paying for it through our taxes. We are all paying.

It is stated that under a government-funded system -- or, more correctly, a taxpayer-funded system -- staff will be better paid and that this will result in a higher-quality program and a more stable staff. Higher-paid teachers in our public school system have not ensured higher-quality education. When our country ranks 21 out of 22 countries, there is something wrong with the quality of education. When our country is experiencing a 30% dropout rate, there is something wrong with the quality. Our public schools are extremely expensive and our teachers are very highly paid, yet we still rank poorly against other countries. Is child care going to be different? Not likely. Will a higher-paid system ensure that more trained educators stay in the system longer? This has not happened in Sweden. Why should it happen here?

The third group to feel the impact is the women and their families who use our services. They have not necessarily chosen the centre because it was independent, although some do, but because of its program, hours, services, location etc. But if that centre either converts or closes, they will feel the impact. Either way, some things about the child's day will change. They may have to locate another centre. The program philosophies may change if the centre converts. If the child care arrangements these parents have fail, then it is possible that they too will lose their ability to participate in the employment marketplace.

We were asked to discuss the role of the independent child care centres, their history, development, quality and accessibility. Independent child care centres have existed in this province since before the Second World War. Historically, independent centres have been the first to expand services into areas of need. The highest number of licensed centres was reached in 1985, with 940 independent centres operating. Currently there are 650 independent centres in the licensed sector. Their role in the community has been to provide a high quality of service to the children and parents.

Most operators feel that they are very front-line. They are concerned about the day-to-day programming and operation of their centre, not about its historic position in society.

The issue of quality in child care in Ontario is very much a red herring. The minister has been unable to say that the independent operators do not provide good service. Statistics show that as a group we are accountable. I refer you to the Levy-Coughlin report of 1990; that referred to the direct operating grants, by the way. In the quarter ending September 1991, 95% of independent centres had clear licences, while only 94% of non-profits had clear licences.

Municipalities from Hamilton to Halton have written to the minister stressing their concern about the discriminatory practices. They all state that in their communities the quality of care provided by the independent operators is no different from that found in the non-profit sector. This is also stated by Metropolitan Toronto in its Blueprint for Child Care in 1986. Quality is not the issue.

Accessibility? Independent operators are usually the first into an area where there is a need. They traditionally develop a centre quicker and more affordably than a non-profit agency. Accessibility is not a question of auspice but rather one of availability of subsidy dollars. This government has shown no inclination to rectify that problem.

We question this government's and this province's ability to provide the subsidy spaces in the future. They cannot afford them now. In the future they will have the additional capital costs the independent operators now cover. As well, the reformed system will require even more taxpayers' dollars for administration and increasingly high capital costs.

It should be noted here that while government spending increased by 43% on child care in the past three years, the actual number of children served decreased by 12%. At the same time, waiting lists grew and grew. Accessibility is controlled by the manner in which government spends its child care dollar. If the taxpayers' money is directed towards capital costs and the destruction of service which exists, the number of children with access to the system will decrease.

Also for discussion is "the impact that conversion of these centres into non-profit will have on the public's right to choice, on the economy." It is the parents' right and responsibility to choose what care their children will have. Under the reformed system that right will gradually be eliminated. Even now, as the government's preference for non-profit is pushed, parents are being denied the right to choose. Staff at the regional levels are directing parents into non-profit centres even when a parent's preferred choice is an independent centre and that centre has a space.

If this is happening now, we do not see how it will not happen in the future. We see a system where parents will be told which child care they may use, just as we are now directed to a specific school. Yes, it is true that parents can change their child's school, but it is not easy. Why should we take a regressive step? A high-quality, affordable, accessible system is in place. Why should we spend countless dollars reforming what does not need reform?

We believe that this government's preference for a non-profit system and a universal system is detrimental to the province and the society as well as to the users' -- parents' -- right to choose.

Fiscally, we cannot afford it. It is incomprehensible to me as a taxpayer how it can even be considered. The simplest examination of the numbers will tell you that the cost implications are absolutely horrendous. Both operating costs and capital costs could run into the billions. Taxpayers, from kids working part-time to seniors, will have to foot the bill for this colossal mistake. The costs could run to over $1,000 per year in additional taxes for each and every taxpayer in this province.

Every country that has tried this system has failed, from Britain to Sweden. In October, Sweden did away with the public and municipal monopoly on child care centres. An operator may now open an independent centre. The children attending are eligible for all government grants. From a paper examining child care in Sweden, I quote:

"Profit-making day care was banned until last month. Now it is okay to earn money on day care centres. In Parliament in November even the Social Democrat Party voted for breaking up its own rigid rules regarding child day care."

Sweden has recognized it has made a mistake. Why can we not learn from other people's mistakes?

Child care, like many other systems in this province, needs less government, not more. Government has a place in setting standards, monitoring and licensing. There is a role for government in funding of children and families in need, but the focus must be on assistance to the user, not the provider.

This country and this province were founded on the principle of entrepreneurship. We take responsibility for ourselves and our actions. If it is our right to have children, it is our responsibility to raise them ourselves, not the government's, not society's. For every right we have, there is an equal, balancing responsibility. If we have the right to accept a universal child care system, it is our responsibility to cover the costs for our child, not for the society to cover the costs for all children. If the right or privilege is given to an individual, he or she owns the responsibility as well. To take away the responsibility is to relegate the adult to the position of a child. For the government to take over responsibility for child care is to place the parent in the position of a child, not a responsible adult.

When a system is put in place that separates the two sides of the coin, problems will develop. Privileges are abused and responsibility is forgotten. This is not 1984, as was noted before, and the citizens of this province do not need the government to walk them through life.


Quality, affordability, accessibility: These issues are the areas of concern. Is there only one way to achieve these goals: first destruction, then rebuilding at horrendous cost? There are other ways that do not steal investments of time, energy and money from the citizens of this province, ways that do not eliminate high-quality service in the hope that some time in the future they may be replaced.

In October 1990 Mrs Boyd stated her government was not out to eliminate the small independent operator, that she believed a compromise could be found. Some compromise. Small business is being eliminated at a time when this province can ill afford to lose more jobs and more taxpaying businesses. It is indeed unfortunate that the jobs lost will be those held by women. It is indeed unfortunate that the lost services are those used and needed by other women to enable them to stay in the workforce. Thank you.

The Acting Chair (Mr Mahoney): Thank you. The Liberal caucus is first, I believe, this time. Mrs O'Neill, we have about eight minutes each.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: We had a presentation this afternoon that quoted figures that are not identical to yours and they were disputed by the ministry and other presenters. I wonder if you could give us the backup to the figures you have used in your brief on page 6 regarding spending increases of 43% and children served decreasing by 12%.

Mrs Preston: I have that at home. Unfortunately, it is not one of the things I brought with me. I would be glad to bring that with me tomorrow and make it available to you.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That would be helpful, since it seems to be in dispute.

I would like you to say a little more about the statement you have made both on page 3 and page 2. You are talking about jobs disappearing. Have you any figures on that? I think your statement regarding intangibles is excellent, very inclusive. I think we need to emphasize jobs disappearing. Can you talk a bit about that, who you think will be most affected, how many jobs, how long the re-entry period may be, things like this?

Mrs Preston: The re-entry period could be long because right now there are no job openings. If a centre closes, centres staying open are laying off staff.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: How could the centres that are staying open lay off staff? We have regulations that talk to staffing. Can you say a little bit about that?

Mrs Preston: A centre can be licensed for 56 children, say. It would require a certain number of staff for those children. If they go down a group more than eight children, more than 16 children, depending upon what their group is, they can close down a section of that centre pending children to fill it. So in the interim they are not required to maintain the staff for those empty rooms.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You are saying some of that is happening now.

Mrs Preston: Some of that is happening now. The statistics we are working from are Ministry of Community and Social Services statistics and we know they are a little bit behind. The last figure I had was that 74 centres in the independent sector had closed in the first nine months of 1991, I think. I do not have the number of spaces, but certainly that would represent an operator for each centre, a cook, depending on the number of children, the number of groups in there; certainly a minimum of four or five staff per centre. You are looking at a minimum of -- what? -- 400.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: It is very helpful that you give us those kinds of figures. We have not had a lot of people talk to us about the way this plan is being implemented, because, as you know, we have some moratorium. You have suggested that the $1,000 regarding the conversions for the equipment and toys would not really come to $1,000. Would you say a little more about this? In my humble opinion it is a rather unfair way to deal and it certainly does not include many of the other intangibles you have mentioned. Fairness is an issue here, for sure.

Mrs Preston: You have to understand that what I am going on is conversations and gleanings etc. There is, as you know, nothing down in writing for the conversion package, but what we have been informed is that the $1,000 for used toys and equipment is on depreciated value. Now, for most of us who are on subsidy or purchase-of-service agreements there are guidelines that we have to follow in terms of what equipment is kept on the books, how long you depreciate it etc. Most of the items we purchase are less than $1,000 per unit per year. Therefore, after a year it is considered, according to your books, to be fully depreciated, so that your Fisher Price toys, even though they are still in use, even though they are still good, are considered to be fully depreciated. It is only if you put in $15,000 of playground equipment, something like that, that it would remain on your books for more than a year.

If you look at just strictly what is on the books, the value would have no bearing as to what it would cost to replace that equipment, even at a garage sale price. There is no relationship one to the other. As we understand the process, the $1,000 goes to the non-profit agency that is being set up or taking over, however it is managed: the former independent centre. They get the $1,000 and they negotiate with the former owner to come up with the price. When they are told that they get the $1,000 per licensed space regardless of how much they have actually paid to the independent operator, there is not an incentive for them to give as much as they possibly could.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You did very well in explaining that. Tell me, are you involved in the consultation process? We were told this morning by the minister that this whole process is going to --

Mrs Preston: Which consultation process?

Mr Mahoney: Any consultation process. Pick one.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Yes, that is one answer. We were told that the Association of Day Care Operators -- you were not particularly mentioned -- the people who were now operating the, as we are told we should call this, for-profit group of day care settings are being consulted in implementing this new policy. Have you heard of any of those consultation processes?

Mrs Preston: We were asked to sit on a committee. I and one of our other executive directors attended. There were four independent operators there as well. United Voices was also at the table. There was the coalition. There was union representation. There was ministry representation. I would say we formed, at a guess, less than 25% of the representation on a committee that is talking about how to close down our businesses. We protested. We have been saying for quite a while that you need to talk face to face with the operators individually. It should have been done before December 2. In fact, it was done in 1989, but the minister's office does not appear to be aware of that study. They are now.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That is fine, thank you.

Ms Poole: Just as a supplementary to Mrs O'Neill's question about the consultation, this morning the minister indicated that there was consultation prior to December 2, prior to her announcement. She said she met with people as a private MPP and that there were no surprises by the December 2 announcement. That is not my understanding. Was there any consultation with your organization by the minister prior to that announcement?

Mrs Preston: No. We sat on a group called the core working group for child care reform that was set up by the former minister. We were one of 12 people. United Voices was not a part of that group. There was no staff or parent representation on that group. The mandate of that group was to look at what type of non-profit universal system we were to set up. We did not discuss, and were not allowed to discuss, how we got from a system where 30% were independent sector businesses to a fully non-profit sector.

Mrs Cunningham: Could you tell us about the Levy-Coughlin report of 1990, just where it was done?

Mrs Preston: It is in my briefcase. It is the big white one. It has got all the information on it.

Mrs Cunningham: I will just go on. I though it was interesting to say that, in the quarter ending September 1991, 95% of independent centres had clear licences while only 94% of non-profits had clear licences. I wonder if you could explain it to the committee what that really means.


Mrs Preston: A clear licence is a centre that is meeting all the requirements of the Day Nurseries Act according to about a six- or seven-page checklist that the ministry consultants do when they come in for your licensing inspection.

Mrs Cunningham: This would be done both in non-profit and in private?

Mrs Preston: Yes. The procedure is the same regardless of what auspice a centre operates under. We have the same parent information posted.

Mrs Cunningham: The checklist that came out.

Mrs Preston: Yes. Like I say, the checklist the consultant does is the same for both sectors.

Mrs Cunningham: Do you have the report in front of you? Is this one done all over Ontario, both rural Ontario and --

Mrs Preston: Yes. I do not have it with me, but again, I can bring those pages with me tomorrow.

Mrs Cunningham: That is fine. It is most helpful. I was pleased with your presentation and appreciative of the paper you gave us on family day care in Sweden. I was not as up to date on that as I would like to be, but thank you very much for helping us out.

I was also interested that you stuck to the topic that it has an impact on women. I think we all are aware that if the government moves in this direction, both the operators and the workers are in difficulty, there is no doubt, with regard to future employment. I wondered with regard to the consultation that is going about -- the dates have been set, by the way. Are you aware of when you will be having your consultation in your community?

Mrs Preston: My community does not have one. I am doing a presentation on the part of our association in London, or at least I have requested a time. I have not had it confirmed as yet, but as a taxpayer, I am going to have to go a good hour from my community to be able to make a presentation.

Mrs Cunningham: Could I ask you if you will be expanding your input to the issues that were behind us about two years ago as we looked at how we could provide more workplace child care, more school-age child care in or outside of school settings and more licensed child care in homes? Will you be talking about any of those, since I think those are the issues of parents?

Mrs Preston: You mean in terms of our presentation at the consultation?

Mrs Cunningham: Yes.

Mrs Preston: No, we had not planned on it.

Mrs Cunningham: I think the issue now has become a phasing out of the private sector in the provision of child care, and I think that is unfortunate. If the government really wanted to answer the question, "What role should the provincial government play in the planning and management of child care?" -- that is the first question, by the way. If you take a look at the last page, have you seen this yet?

Mrs Preston: Yes.

Mrs Cunningham: I hope you will talk about that, because my great concern is we are going to just be on this issue. This committee is looking at it now, obviously, but I hope the presenters will talk about how we can discuss the role of the provincial government, the role of the local community and how we can expand the service in a responsible way, as opposed to sticking with what I think is a red herring, at least for most parents in Ontario today.

It is not with regard to my views or your views, and I think the majority of people coming before the committee will say the government is in fact taking away a choice. I guess my question is, I hope you will take the opportunity to expand upon your brief so we can expand beyond this, because I think the questions are those that were asked a decade ago and we have come a lot further than what this consultation seems to be about.

Mrs Preston: I know our brief does expand upon what is in the document, not necessarily in the directions you are suggesting, but it is certainly something we can look at in the interim.

Mrs Cunningham: I hope you will. The other question my colleague was asking earlier was with regard to the indirect subsidies of non-profit centres that are finding themselves in difficulty. Are you aware of any of that?

Mrs Preston: I know there is $10.8 million that was allocated for what we like to call fiscally irresponsible non-profits. We have a great deal of difficulty understanding how any organization that has capital grants, startup grants and more than twice the amount of wage enhancements that our sector gets, still finds itself in financial difficulty, but I know there is $10.8 million. I assume the minister had some rationale for deciding on $10.8 million for that fund. So there have to be some centres somewhere that at least need that amount of money.

Mrs Cunningham: You are not aware of any specifically, I suppose.

Mrs Preston: No. Obviously the centres I work with are essentially private, independent, so I would have to say I really do not know of any specific -- other than the ones we read about in the paper. There was one in Toronto last summer that had a considerable amount of difficulty, just that type of information.

The Levy-Coughlin report was prepared for the child care branch, Ministry of Community and Social Services, March 15, 1990. Its full title is A Short Term Evaluation of the Direct Operating Grants.

Ms Poole: Mr Chairman, could we ask the ministry for copies of that report for tomorrow?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Someone, I believe, provided an excerpt from it, as you may have found out, in a presentation, so we have the title. You have provided it to us, which is very helpful, in this package, but I think it would be great if we had at least one copy of the report.

Mr B. Ward: I would like to thank you for your presentation. I always appreciate it when individuals take the time from their busy schedules to come down and make us aware of their concerns.

When I look at your brief, there appear to be some differences in what we as a government see should be happening to day care and what your organization feels should be happening. What I would like to try to find are perhaps areas where you can consider supporting what our government is trying to do.

I noticed in your presentation when you are talking about choice, you say, "We see a system where parents will be told which child care they may use, just as we are now directed to a specific school." I can give you assurances that our government has no intention of telling parents which day care centre they should be using, so I hope you can support us in that if there are 10 non-profit centres in my community, as a parent, if space is available, I can pick one of those 10. I am not going to be that I have to go to one that is in my district, as you referred to in school districts. I hope you can support us in that.

The other point is that I think in a non-profit system there is room for profit. Say we achieve our goal of universal day care; that is, funded by the province directly in the non-profit sector. As a parent, if I want to pay an individual owner-operator who is running a for-profit centre for the privilege of taking care of my child -- I recognize that my taxes are going to the non-profit centre, but I still make the conscious decision that I want to pay this for-profit owner-operator -- I can, similar to the scenario, and I have heard it alluded to, where we have a public education system and private schools, if I want to pay to have my child go to that private school, he or she can. Do you not envision that type of system evolving in Ontario?

Mrs Preston: No. Certainly I cannot support you or your government's decision to ration parents' choice. If there are 15 centres out there and 10 are non-profit and five are independent, the parents should have the right of placing their child where they want. Our focus is and our belief is that any funding the government should do should be funding the user, not the school or the centre. The parent is the one, and if the parent wishes to send her child to centre 11, which happens to be an independent centre, the parent now has that right to do so, and it should not be denied. I cannot support any elimination of parental choice.


Mr B. Ward: And we are not.

Mrs Preston: Yes, you are. You are saying that the parent will not be able to send her child to the independent centre.

Mr B. Ward: No.

Mrs Preston: Any new subsidies --

Mr B. Ward: Just a clarification, Mr Chair. Just for clarification, you say in your report, "We see a system where parents will be told which child care they may use, just as we are now directed to a specific school." We are saying that is not going to happen.

Mrs Preston: Would you mind if I have some reservations, please?

Mr B. Ward: Maybe the Liberals and the Tories will implement that system, but we will not.

Mr Mahoney: You have to take Brad's word for it.

Mrs Cunningham: Anybody who needs even partial subsidies cannot go --

Mr Mahoney: He has his finger on the pulse of this government, I want you to know.

Mrs Preston: I am sorry. I do not believe that it will happen.

The Chair: Order. Do you have further questions, Mr Ward?

Mr B. Ward: No, I will pass to my colleague.

Mr Bisson: There are a couple of things in your brief you had mentioned that I thought would be a little bit interesting just pointing out. One is that the change in direction of Sweden was caused more by a change in political party and obviously an ideology going in an opposite direction. It was not for any other reason than a change in political parties that happened in Sweden. It was not based on any kind of report.

The thing I would like to get to is that I come from a community that has basically only commercial day care. You probably know the operator well, a person who has been in the day care area for a number of years, who provides what I believe, because I have no reason not to, is quality day care for the people in my community.

My understanding, in the discussions I have had with the Ministry of Community and Social Services and also with this operator, is that the way the conversion is being explained, sometimes by the opposition but also by some of the presenters, is not quite correct. What we are trying to do is come up with a formula that will be fair both to the commercial centres that choose -- and the key word is "choose" -- to convert to non-profit and those that decide not to do so, to have some sort of a system by which there is some recognition for what happens when you do convert and the amount of money that you have invested in those centres and making sure that the commercial centres are able to get what is fair, but at the same time that the government does not pay through the nose either, and there is a balance in that.

I do know that there is a number of --

Mr Mahoney: Choose or go broke.

Mr Bisson: Excuse me, Mr Mahoney. I do have the floor.

Mr Mammoliti: Why do you consistently --

Mr Mahoney: Choose or go broke. That is the choice.

Mr Mammoliti: Why do you consistently --

The Chair: Order. Mr Mammoliti. Mr Mahoney.

Mr Mammoliti: Is there something wrong with you?

Mr Mahoney: At least I am consistent.


Mr Bisson: If you had been very consistent, Mr Mahoney, you might be leader of your party.

Anyway, the question --

Mr Mahoney: What was that? Was that a shot?

Mr Bisson: I think so, yes.

The point is that in the discussions I have had both with local people within the Ministry of Community and Social Services up in my riding and with the private operator, there are a couple of discussions that go on. One of the things is in regard to the amount of money to be made in day care. She freely admits that there is not any money to be made in it in that particular situation. She has no competition to talk about within that particular area. In fact, Timmins is one of the places where a private day care centre had to close down, and it closed down not because there was competition coming in from the non-profit sector; it closed down because she could not make a profit. She made a business decision based on the fact that there was nothing on the bottom line to keep that thing open.

I also know, by some of the information I have gotten together in order to get ready for these hearings, that there are a number of people within the private sector who operate commercial day centres who actually favour what the government is doing, because I do know from discussions with people within the private sector that there has been a lot of controversy on this whole issue for the past eight or nine years. Is it not true that really this has been an argument that has been ongoing for about eight or nine years between the private and non-profit sectors in regard to what the policy direction would be for day care?

If you can just answer that first. I know had a bit of a preamble. The question is, just so I can put it succinctly, how long has this whole discussion been going on in regard to commercial versus non-profit? You have been in the business for a long time. How many years?

Mrs Preston: Late 1960s.

Mr Bisson: Yes. Is it not true that there really has not been a coherent policy in place by the provincial government to adequately deal with the questions of day care within Ontario?

Mr Mahoney: This is coherent?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: No planning.

Mr Bisson: I am asking, has there been a policy that is really dealing with the needs?

Mrs Preston: It depends on what needs you are talking about. Over the last 20-odd years I have been in child care, we have grown tremendously in terms of our standards. It would appear, if you want to look at it, that the attempt has been on the part of the government to be a global setting of standards and priorities or some standards for sure, and that child care and the provision of child care has been bottom-up as opposed to top-down. This appears to be a top-down attempt.

Mr Bisson: But as far as coherent policy, to be able to deal with --

Mrs Preston: I do not believe that this is a coherent policy.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Bisson: I was interrupted somewhat; I would ask for another couple of minutes.

The Chair: I am afraid you are over the time allocation, Mr Bisson.

Mr Bisson: I still have a minute, according to the clock.

Mr Mahoney: Come on, what did I do?

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation today. The committee appreciates your taking the time to come and speak with us.

Mrs Preston: Could I have a minute and a half to respond to some of the comments that were made, if I talk real fast?

The Chair: Unfortunately the time has expired and the Chair has no latitude in these matters.

Mr Mahoney: I move the deputation be given a minute and a half.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: I think that is only fair.

The Chair: Do we have unanimous consent?

Interjection: No.

The Chair: No.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Yes.

Ms Poole: Okay. Give the deputation a minute and a half and we will give Gilles one minute to finish his.

Mr Mahoney: No, no.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That is very unfair. You are supposed to be asking questions instead of making statements.

The Chair: I am sorry. Thank you very much for your presentation.

Mrs Preston: Thank you very much.

The Chair: Do you have a point of order, Mr Bisson?

Mr Bisson: Yes, I have a point of order. You will probably rule me out of order. The point is that we have people coming to present to us and yes, we have to hear what they have to say. I think it would be appreciated on the part of the people coming forth that all sides restrain from heckling across the table, our side and your side, so we can hear what people have to say and not fill in each other's time.

Interjection: Good point.

Mr Bisson: I do not think this is --

Mrs Watt: So true. It is our livelihoods you are playing with.

Mr Bisson: That is right.

Mrs Watt: It is very difficult to sit here and listen to bantering going back and forth.

Mr Bisson: Exactly.

The Chair: All members are aware that interjections are always out of order.

Ms Poole: Mr Chair?

The Chair: Yes, Mrs Poole.

Ms Poole: Earlier I had asked a question relating to the United Voices presentation when they cited $350 million for the five-year package and we had asked the ministry to clarify for us tomorrow morning. United Voices have given me a breakdown, and it certainly appears to me from what they have given me that it would be $350 million total over the five years, because what they have done is, out of the $105-million announcement they have taken as ongoing annual expenses the $30-million wage enhancement funding for non-profit workers, because that would have to be provided $30 million per year for five years --

The Chair: Perhaps, Mrs Poole, this would be more appropriate when the ministry is here tomorrow morning and we can question them more specifically about that.

Ms Poole: Right. I just wanted to put this on the record so the ministry could address this. I am almost finished -- and $31-million wage enhancement funding to staff in private centres who convert to non-profit, and they have annualized that for five years, plus the one-time shot, and that adds up to $350 million. Perhaps the ministry could take a look at those figures to tell us whether that presents a true picture.

The Chair: I am certain the ministry will take your comments into consideration.

Ms Poole: Thank you, Mr Chair.



The Chair: We have one cancellation on the agenda. You will note that. I am told that the Humberside Montessori School, represented by Felix Bednarski, is here and ready to make its presentation. Good afternoon. You have been allocated by the committee 20 minutes to make your presentation now, but the members always appreciate some time to have some conversation with you about it.

Mr Bednarski: My name is Felix Bednarski. I will be speaking also on behalf of my wife, Amalia Galle. We are the owners-operators and employees of two day care centres, which are family centres. One is called Humberside Montessori Day Care and another is called Village Nursery.

I would like to draw a picture of our lives and its relation to day care issues. I arrived in Canada 15 years ago. I did not bring any monetary possessions, but what I brought with me were dreams, ambitions, a university degree and a great desire to work hard to accomplish something. Here I met my wife, raised two children and became a Canadian citizen. It was very hard in the new land to establish myself professionally. It took 10 years of hard life for me and my wife to come to a conclusion on our career.

We had a dream. That dream was that we wanted to run our own day care. My wife decided to give up her career of working for 21 years as a registered nurse, which presently would give her a salary exceeding $50,000 a year, and I gave up my master's degree in architecture and four years of studies at an academy of fine arts.

Day care was our choice for two reasons: We wanted to make it our own career and we were fed up with non-profit day care services our own children were going through.

This is the way Humberside Montessori Day Care came to life five years ago, operating on a single floor in a house at 310 Clendenan Avenue. We started with two staff members and 12 children only, ages two and a half to five years old. Due to the growing demands for our program, we expanded our services into all three floors. Our original half-day Montessori programs have been expanded to a full day. Children who grew are still coming back to us to participate in a very popular before- and after-school-age program.

In May 1990, due to the continuous demands for spaces in our agency, we expanded to a second location at 2525 Bloor Street West called Village Nursery, where we provide care for children from three-month-old infants to 10-year-old, school-age children.

In a short five years we were able to create employment for 25 young women with whom we are presently providing day care services and Montessori education to 150 children. All our children are full-fee-paying children. We do not have any subsidy agreement with Metropolitan Toronto. We feel that in the five years we accomplished a lot. We feel we contributed a lot to our country and to the province. We feel we contributed a lot to our community. But the last few months disturbed our lives enormously.

The present Ontario government initiated changes to the child care infrastructure in Ontario. The message we are getting is very simple. We hear that this province does not need immigrants who come here with dreams, ambitions and desire for hard work. We hear we are not good enough, that our 300 parents leaving their precious children with us are not good samples of the quality programs we offer. We hear that private achievements and contribution to the community are not good enough, and we feel that we save the province hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. We hear it is better to rob a taxpayer of his or her money, use the government handouts, abuse public funds by defaulting public non-profit day cares into debt.

We became very angry that the present Ontario government allows and supports financially such organizations as the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, which is tarnishing our names and, in fact, lies to the public about the care we are providing.

We heard a lot about quality. I would like to tell you about our quality. The quality in our sense is the single mother who qualifies for a subsidy but has her son in our centre because she wants to have a clear mind that her son is safe and well looked after. The same mother has a choice of five other non-profit centres in the area.

The quality in our understanding is a little child from our day care who stays for supper with us because his mother was delayed by a snowstorm. The quality in our understanding is one-of-a-kind playground built without nails, so that children would not hurt their hands.

The quality is the Montessori education we are providing to young children without additional cost to the parents, where the costs of Montessori equipment is at least five times more than toys. It is very hard to find Montessori teachers working in a day care setting.

The quality for us is that we increased this year our enrolment for an additional 24 children and we hired three extra staff members despite gloomy economy, recession and without a penny from the government.

The quality for us are the parents who buy a house near our day care because it would be close for their children to walk to the centre. The quality is our own subsidy plan for parents who cannot afford our programs but who would like to enrol their child in our centre.

Quality is a father who is unemployed and who pays only a fraction of the fee and his child can stay in the Montessori program.

Quality is our free home school bus delivery program for parents who lost jobs or who do not have cars.

Quality is our supervisor who can take a higher-paying job in non-profit day care but builds her life and career with us because the structure of our organization better responds to the needs of the children.

Quality is the parents whose voice and input in our operation are more than gold for us and the parents who have a complete trust in our work. We do not need monthly board meetings; we talk to our parents on a daily basis. Any concerns are being dealt with immediately.

We heard a lot of tarnishing and insulting statements about the financial side of private day care, statements which in our opinion are simply a lie. Here is what we have to live with:

How would you measure our commitment when we borrow about $250,000 to finance playground-building and equipment purchase? We are responsible for it. That was not a handout from the government.

How would you measure our dedication to the cause of children if for the first time since 1987 myself and my wife were able to claim last year a salary of $11,500 a year each? This is with my working schedule of 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and my wife the same, with the exception of Sunday. We are hoping to receive this year a salary of $22,500 each. This is after five years of being in operation. I must tell you that we love what we are doing and we are very proud of our work.

How would you measure our commitment to high salaries for staff if our off-the-program supervisor makes $30,000 a year, just slightly below an average in non-profit day care, considering that we are receiving only half of the direct operating grants and we have to pay a high $5,000-a-month rent?

This is an investment in our future. This is our investment in community infrastructure. We feel that we should be cherished for it or we should be rewarded. But what do we get in exchange? We are being persecuted by our own government.

We feel we have a great knowledge and expertise in providing a high quality child care. However, our knowledge and expertise has not been acknowledged by the present Ontario government. I must rather say it was rejected. We are not allowed to contribute to the process of preparing child care reform. Only self-serving interest groups were allowed to speak.

We feel the present Ontario government is going against its own people. I know this feeling very well. I spent 28 years of my life living under an oppressive regime in Eastern Europe. Our lives are being shattered as our own government is planning to take our livelihood away from us, and by doing this it will destroy our achievement in and contribution to the province so far.

I would like to use this occasion to present our recommendations relating to the government's policies relating to independent child care centres.

We feel that private, independent child care centres have to be an integral part of any new child care policies in Ontario. In our view, private day care is superior to non-profit. It provides better access for parents to the leadership, runs better, operates more economically, serves the community in a better, modern and flexible way and, most important, saves taxpayers millions and millions of dollars.

Government policies should concentrate on monitoring abuse of public funds, such as financial abuse in Dovercourt International Day Care: $500,000 go down the drain. Forty per cent of non-profit day cares in Metro are in financial debt. In one of our neighbourhood non-profit day cares over $20,000 went missing. Subsequently the supervisor and treasurer of the board have been fired. The whole board has been fired. Do we ever hear about stories like this in public?

There has to be a public review of the operations of non-profit day cares. In our view, the present structure will always be a source of financial abuse. It is like in a private organization, there has to be a person in charge, but not an antique, unimaginative board which is often self-serving and is also removed from the daily life of a centre. A ship without a captain will always sink.

We would like to see also that parents have a right to select a day care of their choice. Parents receiving a day care subsidy should have a right to select a centre of their own choice. This will create competition, which in turn will create excellence in all existing child care centres.

In our view, a public and universal day care system will never work and, if implemented, will balloon out of proportion like our present medical care. In our view, the present child care reform should be rewritten. As it stands now, it was only written to fulfil the political ambition of the governing party in Ontario, one of whose prime objects is the elimination of private, independent child care in Ontario. Thank you.


Mr Mammoliti: Thank you very much. An excellent presentation. You mentioned earlier that you feel the private child care centres are superior.

Mr Bednarski: That is right.

Mr Mammoliti: You also mentioned competitiveness. I am sympathetic, let me tell you, to private as well, I must say, but I have had the opportunity to visit a few in my riding and I think we could agree that being competitive -- it is like a business, perhaps like the corner store or even the gas station on the corner. Would you agree that you have got to treat it like a business?

Mr Bednarski: Not necessarily. I understand the business. The business side in day care is simply the management of the money. Competitiveness is something else. I am talking about competitiveness in quality.

Mr Mammoliti: So you are saying that it is not competitive at all, that you do not have to make decisions based on the private child care centre down the street. Do you keep tabs on the private child care centres in your community? Do you ask and see how much they charge? Do you see the types of food they feed their children and that sort of thing? I would think you would do that as somebody who is --

Mr Bednarski: No. We have our own set of goals and we set those goals. If you are talking about fees, for example, those goals are very often influenced by what the parents can pay. If you are talking about quality, we simply have our own set of goals.

Mr Mammoliti: When a parent comes to you, as the owner, and says, "I have my child and I would like to see your facility; however, I can get it cheaper at the private centre two blocks away," what do you say to that parent? In terms of quality, you know the type of quality. That is one thing you can say. Do you not agree that it is a competitive business? Do you not agree that at times you have to make decisions to keep yourself afloat if your competitor down the street is charging less?

Mr Bednarski: Sir, my answer to this would be that in the last five years we have not spent a penny on advertising. Our quality speaks for itself.

Mr Mammoliti: That is not what I am asking. I am not asking about your advertising. I am asking whether you have to make those very crucial decisions.

Mr Bednarski: That is our own set of standards and qualities we are setting. It does not depend on whether there is a non-profit day care next door that is charging less and therefore we have to reduce the fees. If the parent is coming to us and telling us that the next-door day care is cheaper, we are sending this parent to that day care, because the parent really does not look at the program, he looks at the fees.

Mr Mammoliti: So it is competitive then?

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Mammoliti. Mrs O'Neill.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Mr Bednarski, I thank you very much for giving us a story of your contributions. I like the term. I think it is a term we do not use often enough, that you take pride in your work. I think that is a very important goal for all of us.

You have suggested two things I want to ask you about. One is that you do subsidize your own parents even though there is no subsidy from the government. I wonder if you would speak to that briefly. Then I want to be more specific, and as specific as you can be, about why you are so full of fears when we were told this morning by the minister and indeed this afternoon by members of the present government caucus that your kind of operation would be in no jeopardy, because there would be a business plan you would submit and people would still have the choice and there would be no enforcement to conversion as long as you were not receiving government subsidies. I am wondering why you feel so fearful and how you subsidize people within your operation.

Mr Bednarski: If I may answer the second question first, I think there is a mechanism, and maybe we are not talking about this mechanism. For as long as the government will be setting out the standard for the qualification for our staff and supplying the staff in the non-profit sector with the additional money, this is the area where we are going to lose, because in the future I will not be able to hire qualified staff, which is required by the Day Nurseries Act, because all the staff will go to the much higher-paid jobs in the non-profit sector. So that is the reason. Nobody touched that subject, in my view. Right now there is a difference of $5,000, and that difference probably will be growing. That is the fear and that is the problem I see in the future.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: But you will continue to have access to the direct operating grants at 50%, as we understand it from this morning. Do you understand that?

Mr Bednarski: I understand this, but we --

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Because you were in the business in 1987.

Mr Bednarski: That is right, and we got operating grants for 24 children in one centre and in this centre right now we have 64 children, so there is a difference of 40 children and there was no increase in grants. Therefore the allocation per staff is much smaller right now. We could expand for another 100 children, because we have a lot of parents who wanted to come to our centre, and the allocation of the direct operating grants will be very small.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: So the number on the direct --

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs O'Neill.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Okay. Thank you. Sorry.

Mrs Cunningham: I am sorry I missed your presentation, Mr Bednarski, but I am sure that the members here are interested in the Montessori schools. I would ask you in a general way, since you are quite an association, I understand, are there many children who are subsidized or partially subsidized in your school now?

Mr Bednarski: As I said earlier, we do not have a subsidy agreement with Metro. All our children are full-fee-paying children. I did mention that we have our own subsidy plan for parents who cannot afford our programs but would like to enrol their children into our centre. It is a very informal plan and so far, in the last five years, was working very well. The parents have been coming to us. They are interested in the program. They get a package of booklets about our programs, fee etc, and if they find out they cannot afford the program for one reason or other -- the single mother, maybe one parent laid off -- they come to us and say, "Listen. This is what we can afford. I would like to enrol my child, but can I have school bus delivery," or something like that.


Mrs Cunningham: So the only subsidy you get now would be in the form of the direct operating grant?

Mr Bednarski: Exactly. That is right.

Mrs Cunningham: I see. Could I ask another question? Are you subject to the day nurseries regulations?

Mr Bednarski: Yes, we are.

Mrs Cunningham: Regular inspections?

Mr Bednarski: That is right. That is another problem we have, as I said earlier to another gentleman here, that we set very, very high standards. We wanted to give parents more than any other average day care, and that is why we decided on the Montessori program, which is very costly, and it is very hard to run because in many instances there has to be special approval from the ministry in order to fulfil the regulations for running the proper Montessori program.

Mrs Cunningham: Are you aware of the public consultation document that is going around? I am sorry, it is a grey one. This one -- no, I have not got it. Have you seen that?

Mr Bednarski: I did; the child care one. That is right.

Mrs Cunningham: The consultation paper. Are you planning on making a submission?

Mr Bednarski: That is right. I did sign myself as a representative in Metropolitan Toronto west to speak up on behalf of our two centres, and also in the Toronto centre to speak up on behalf of United Voices.

The Chair: Thank you. We appreciate your taking the time to come and speak to the committee this afternoon.


The Chair: The next presentation will be from Cedar Grove day care centre and school, Sue Kendall, director. Good afternoon.

Mrs Kendall: Good afternoon.

The Chair: Welcome to the committee. The committee has allocated 20 minutes for your presentation. As always, we appreciate some of that time for questions and answers.

Mrs Kendall: Thank you. I have asked that three letters be passed around. I kept it to three because you do not need to be reading a lot of documentation. My name is Susan Kendall, and I own and I operate Cedar Grove Children's Centre in Lorne Park, Mississauga. I became interested in quality day care when my own daughter was two years old and had been abused by her babysitter. I took a whole week off work as an executive secretary to find the best care for her I could. In 1974 she was old enough for kindergarten. I faced the inevitable half-day problem and became one of a pilot program of private home day care providers along with four others for what is now the region of Peel's rather large program. I continued to offer home day care until 1981.

I graduated from Sheridan College's early childhood education program through its continuing education department in 1984 while working at a full-time job, running my husband's company and having three little girls.

I would like to take a few minutes to give you the history of my centre. Cedar Grove was first opened as a nursery school in 1969 by Mrs Johanna Zuuring. The licensed capacity was for 84 children, and the program ran from 9:00 to 11:30 each morning. Mrs Zuuring has always run at full capacity. In 1984, we were introduced by a mutual friend and within 30 minutes of conversation she asked if I would consider buying her school as she wished to retire. She had been looking for someone with the same philosophy and enthusiasm she had.

I bought the school. I had to take out a loan to purchase the school and carried on working for the Children's Aid Society of the Region of Peel to repay the loan while the supervisor ran the school. I have to admit that the equipment was in a pretty poor state and the program adviser at that time commented, after I took over, that she was really impressed with the renovations of the equipment and improvement in the program.

In 1985, at the request of parents, we added an afternoon program. When I took over the direct running of the school in September 1986, we had four children bringing in packed lunches so they could attend both the morning and the afternoon program. We also had a waiting list for other children to stay for lunch, but we were not licensed to do so.

Once again at the request of parents, we applied in the spring of 1987 to change some of nursery school space to day care space, and we were granted our licence in September 1987. By this time our children were going to kindergarten and some had graduated to grade 1, so with requests and encouragement from our community we added kindergarten and the after-school program.

At the moment we have a capacity for 84 half-day preschool children, 22 day care children, and 15 before- and after-school children. We actually forfeit 24 spaces for an indoor playroom, but it is really worthwhile to have, especially when it is wet or cold or very hot.

We have children whose parents came to us as children, and my eldest daughter is at university with students who attended Cedar Grove as preschoolers. We have children who have been with us since they were two and a half years old and have finally graduated from our after-school program, as we feel they are now responsible enough to stay at home by themselves. But they still use Cedar Grove as a safe haven, if necessary, and we are available to them by phone, should they need advice when their parents are inaccessible.

Up until last year we did no advertising at all, as every parent came to us by word of mouth. Most of the parents still do. The majority of our families live locally, but we have always had parents who have chosen to come to us because of our quality, our enthusiasm and the atmosphere of the school. They have been prepared to drive to us from as far away as Milton, Burlington and Toronto.

The building we are in is a typical church building, and we share the facilities with many other organizations and church programs. It is a very active church, and when I first took over the school, the church was not convinced that Cedar Grove was really a true outreach into the community. Today they are not only convinced but are very concerned about our ability to continue to operate under the new directives of the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The church is happy it does not have to provide volunteers for another program within the building, but we do have church members who sit on our advisory board.

Decisions about new equipment or new programs introduced into the school are always discussed with the church first, and consideration is always given to our mutual benefit. They have supplied me with a letter for your perusal.

As I said, we are in a church building that was not specifically designed for day care or nursery school. However, through creative thinking and innovative planning, we have achieved the best possible program in a rather difficult situation. We have been accredited for some of our solutions by our local branch of the ministry, which constantly recommends to other day care centres facing difficult circumstances, whether it be room size, room shape, room situation, playground problems, that they go and see how Cedar Grove tackled and resolved those particular problems.

I have been asked by the ministry to attend discussion and input groups when new programs were being designed. There have been instances when ministry staff have observed my staff completing certain in-house documents and have gone back to the ministry and, in time, these procedures have even become part of the guidelines.

I have been asked on several occasions to assist floundering non-profit organizations to reorganize and help them set up a workable and realistic budget. We have always maintained a clear licence, and the comments on the program advisory reports have always been very complimentary; quite often, "Excellent programming."

I have to tell you when the ministry began making its announcements that only staff in the taxpayer-supported organizations -- non-profit, as you call them -- were being given additional funding and that the policy of the future was to eliminate private centres which had been running for years without any outside support, I was hurt, and finally I realized that I felt betrayed that the ministry which I thought had supported and appeared to respect my contributions was now plotting my demise.

We are used to having students from high school co-op programs, and from Sheridan College ECE and ECA program as well. During the first semester of each year we have first-year ECE students, and we help them develop their skills in the field. If we have a first-year ECE student during the second semester, we know she is repeating her first placement and she is being sent to us to bring her up to standard or discover where the problem lies. Obviously Sheridan College values the quality in our program and the support for the students.

During my studies at Sheridan, it was impressed on me that if you wished to be accepted as a professional, you should present and dress as a professional. My staff support this philosophy and are accepted by our parents as exactly that. The rapport between staff and parents is very open, warm and supportive of each other and provides continuous feedback to enable the parents to go to work with the satisfaction of leaving their child with staff who care and so perform their own duties without any anxiety around their child.

My staff are equally as qualified if not better than any of the local non-profit centres. I still have staff who joined Cedar Grove with Mrs Zuuring in 1970. Most of my staff have been with me for more than two years. I even had to re-retire one of my staff last June because she enjoyed being with us so much. My staff are qualified, dedicated, enthusiastic, loyal and, above all, caring people who feel discriminated against.


What is it about my centre that the families like? When a family comes to our centre, they are made to feel they are always welcome. We have a total open-door policy. They are advised that I consider my staff to be trusted professionals who work as a team for the benefit of all. An example of this is, if a staff member is sick, my staff work out between them how to cover each other. It is immediately apparent to anyone visiting that everyone is happy, busy and well taken care of. If a problem arises or parents have a brilliant idea, they know they can bring it directly to me. I have the authority and the interest in alleviating or resolving the problem or bringing the idea to fruition without ever having to wait or have it referred to a board meeting.

Should a parent call during the day to check on the progress of her child, I can reassure and advise her of how her child is, because I spend a good part of my day in the classrooms interacting with the children. Parents know that I am often at the school until late at night, as I spend the day with the children. This means I have to complete the paperwork after school hours. We also make ourselves available to new parents to inspect the facility after hours so we can meet both parents.

I have parents and children who have been attending the centre for several years, who greet my staff and myself in the neighbourhood as close friends and who still come to our Christmas or summer concerts. This year in June our summer concert will be the first concert that one of my parents will not be there since 1970. She has either had one of her own children in the centre, continued to visit or brought her grandchildren. Sadly, she died in December.

I have several families whose only constant was the school while they were torn apart by prolonged, brutal and angry separation and divorce and who are still involved with us today as their lives begin to settle. As many parents will tell us, "If I can trust you with my children, then I feel I can trust you to help me with my problems." Many a late night has been spent listening to distressed parents, helping them through a crisis, whether or not it is related to the children. I would like to add that I have never turned a child away for lack of funding. If we cannot do something ourselves, we will look within the community to help control that.

When a parent expresses a need for service, Cedar Grove looks for a way to either provide it or advise the parent where and how they can access it. We are a resource centre too. We hold parent-teacher workshops on many different subjects whenever we feel parents need information that will help them as families to greater understanding and insight into child development. These include appropriate methods of discipline, that is, to promote consistency between home and the school; how to develop your children's potential without pushing them -- we are afraid of the hurried child syndrome; awareness of media violence. We have an annual family picnic at the lake and the children thank our moms on Mother's Day by serving them with a formal tea. We bring out the bone china cups, the saucers, lace tablecloths, the works, and the children serve the moms.

I would also like to mention that I am not the only person from my family who is involved in the centre. My husband is our cook, dishwasher, handyman, artistic director, set-maker, computer resource person, carpenter, electrician, plumber and first aid specialist. We are a mom-and-pop organization. He is a trained baker and pastry cook, but he prefers our hours. His concern for the children's nutrition is primary and the fact that we have vegetarians, Hindus, Muslims and strict Roman Catholics does not deter him from providing each child with a delicious, nutritious, fresh and visually inviting meal at the same table. He has been asked by the ministry and the public health department to run workshops on how to run a sanitary, methodical kitchen that produces attractive, nutritious and, above all, cost-efficient meals.

Our three daughters are always ready to pitch in and help out with whatever needs to be done, be it laundry, help in the kitchen, repair or paint equipment, play with the children or help set up an art activity. Two of them were born into a home that was operated as a mini-day care and they were brought up in it until we were able to buy Cedar Grove. They have been involved all their lives.

My personal plan for the future was to maintain a high-quality centre that provided for the needs of our community until I reached retirement. I would then pass my centre on to a party who was as qualified, highly motivated, equally enthusiastic and mutually philosophically agreeable to me. This can no longer happen.

Cedar Grove is not only a family-oriented, family-operated centre; it is also our whole life and our sole means of financial support.

Several new families have come to us recently and have expressed a concern about the lack of structure and programming at some of our local competitive non-profit centres. Our program is aimed to stimulate each child at his developmental level and to encourage him to continue learning. We allow our children to have input into our programming, and it may often change the direction we had planned, but we have discovered their interest level, enthusiasm and depth of participation have increased dramatically, and subsequently the level of satisfaction for them is significant.

I hope I have convinced you that Cedar Grove is community oriented and community responsive and will continue to respond to the needs of the community while we can.

Why did I want to own and operate a day care centre? I wanted to own and operate my own centre because I had had placements and worked in several other centres throughout my training whose funding came from various auspices. I often felt that quality, enthusiasm and commitment were lacking. The reasons those things were not quite right as far as I could see was because the supervisor did not have absolute authority or insight or adequate training to understand what it was that was not quite right. I felt parents wanted to know that the person who owned the centre had sufficient interest in it to be there on a daily basis and be readily available if necessary.

I could fully endorse a ministry that rewards and acknowledges people and organizations that provide quality care, which until recently seemed to be the case. If the ministry's proposals provided equal and additional salaries for my staff, who are as well-qualified, hardworking and deserving individuals as those in the taxpayer-supported centres, I would be the first to sanction it. If the ministry's proposals provided funding for additional subsidized care, I would applaud. If I could be assured families would receive cheaper day care through these proposals, I would be ecstatic.

However, in the recent survey of my area, it appears none of these will occur. I will be offering the cheapest day care, my staff will be paid the same rate as the staff of the region of Peel and no additional spaces for subsidized care will be created in our area.

If the ministry's proposals guaranteed that guidelines would be strictly and equitably enforced, I would insist on them being implemented. If the ministry's proposals could guarantee staff would be more motivated and enthusiastic and more deeply involved and committed to their centres and the children, I would be enthusiastic too.

Sweden and Britain have both opted out of universal day care after years of experience because of too high a cost and lack of motivation of their staff, and now support both government-run and private centres as parents' right of choice.

Since the proposal New Directions was introduced in 1987, I have contacted the local branch of the ministry on several occasions and asked what the procedure for conversion would be. Their answer has always been that there is no money available and there is no documentation to provide me with. I have never asked for compensation, but that was their only answer. When finally confronting them with a specific proposal, it was made quite clear to me that even if I should want to convert, they would not allow it. So why this public charade about conversion kits and encouraging private operators to convert?

When we immigrated to Ontario, it was Canada's jewel in the crown, where free enterprise and entrepreneurial concepts were held in high regard. Efforts were appreciated and applauded. The recent policies being pursued jointly by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Education degrade and denigrate people's accomplishments, especially women's. These women's goal was to ensure that the next generation would have a wholesome beginning so they could become responsible adults whose enthusiasm and values would contribute towards a better world in the future. These women had the foresight, fortitude of character and motivation to provide care for children when the government felt disinclined to do so. It is unconscionable to know that now these ministries see a definite need to provide care. They are destroying what exists and replacing it with a system that so far has proven itself to be totally unaccountable financially to anyone and a burden on the already poor taxpayer.

The service we offer our families is of high quality and based on providing the children who come into our care with the very best we have to offer. If this were not our philosophy then we would not have survived this long. We are held accountable by any parent who is dissatisfied. They have the option to remove their child, and we would lose a client.

We are not a burden on the taxpaying public, whether they have children or not. One of my parents stated, "This community would never be the same and would lose a tremendous asset if we were to lose Cedar Grove." Thank you.


The Chair: Thank you for a very good presentation. Unfortunately we only have about a minute and a half left, so it is a quick question from each caucus. Mr White, for 30 seconds.

Mr White: You made a distinction between centres like your own -- and I am very impressed with your obvious caring and competence and your long history as well with that centre -- and those that are the non-profit centres, which you referred to as taxpayer-supported. You do not receive any provincial moneys, then, I presume.

Mrs Kendall: I receive half the DOG grant.

Mr White: Half the DOG grant.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: Mrs Kendall, you just made a statement that you were told that even if you want to convert you could not. Were there any reasons given to you?

Mrs Kendall: Because there are other centres available, non-profit organizations, in the local community which would take our spaces.

Mrs Y. O'Neill: You were given that information by the regional office?

Mrs Kendall: Yes.

Mrs Marland: I would like to commend Mrs Kendall. I am very familiar with her operation. I am also very familiar with other centres in the same area and I can tell you that everything she has said to this committee this afternoon is absolutely correct.

One of the concerns of the minister this morning was that there is not enough input by parents without the formal board route that the non-profit centres have. Could you tell this committee how your parents have had input into your operation all of these years, other than you mentioned if they are not happy they can remove their child? In a general way, can parents have input into your operation?

Mrs Kendall: I am at the front door most days of the week when they come in to greet them and also when they leave.

Ms Poole: Do you also have an advisory board?

Mrs Kendall: Yes, we do have an advisory board.

Mrs Marland: So you are a private centre with an advisory board.

Mrs Kendall: Yes.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Kendall. We appreciate your coming this afternoon.


The Chair: The next presentation will be made by the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, University of Toronto, Martha Friendly. Ms Friendly, you have been allocated 10 minutes by the committee.

Ms Friendly: Yes. I want to use my 10 minutes thoroughly, so I will speak fast.

First of all, for clarification, I have worked at the University of Toronto for more than 10 years. The Childcare Resource and Research Unit has been funded by successive governments beginning with the Conservative government as a resource on child care research and policy, and some of you have used it over the years. People from all parties are welcome to use its resources. People from many governments in Canada use it as well as the community.

When I was preparing this presentation I pulled out my file on the last committee on profit and non-profit child care and I actually noticed that my presentation to that committee was March 24, which is today, 1987. So this is five years later.

I am going to focus my remarks on the report of that committee. I am sorry that Cam Jackson has left because he was the only common member. I would like to draw your attention to some aspects of the report that were put forward five years ago, and I see a lot of other people in the room who were here five years ago. So that is what I am going to do.

Now, Dianne, I just want to tell you that I am not going to talk about what I talked about five years ago. I brought my transcript from last time if you would like to have a copy of it. I have brought a couple of copies which you can have afterwards. Last time I reviewed the research on quality and I am not going to do that again because a couple of people are going to do that very well tomorrow. So if you have any questions about that, I can probably answer them.

Since I only have 10 minutes, I think what I would like to do is put this whole issue within a public policy context. I think, in listening to the presentations today, it is a very similar kind of discussion to what we have been having for the last 10 years. I think you alluded to that. It has to do with how you view child care, and I would like to talk a little bit about who is saying what and how the issue kind of falls out.

What I want to say to you is that over the last 10 years we have started seeing child care as a public policy issue. Over that period of time a really comprehensive range of groups have advocated for improvements to child care and have placed the issue of how you deal with the question of child care as a business, commercial child care, within that context. What we have seen in Ontario, and I think this is perhaps more true than in any other part of Canada, is that over the last 10 years successive governments have moved more and more to have a role in child care. They have moved to regulate more, and I think we have heard that a little bit today. They have moved to fund more. They have moved more to involve themselves in how child care is contextualized for children.

In Ontario to date we have really moved from government having a passive role in child care to where I think it moved under New Directions for Child Care under the previous Liberal government to playing a facilitative role. I think that was the conceptual shift that New Directions made. It took a number of positions that facilitated how and where and in what ways child care would be provided.

I think the real question people are debating is, what is government's role in initiating and funding and regulating child care and determining what it actually looks like? No government in Canada, really, and not in Ontario, has yet taken a proactive stance on child care. You can look at the role that governments in the European Community countries have played in child care. Even those governments have moved more and more to taking a proactive stance, and that means it is saying, "Look, we are going to have child care, just like we have sewers or just like we have schools." It does not necessarily mean, in our case, that the government will run those programs.

Right now, we are at a crossroads in Ontario. The current situation is that for the first time the government is looking at moving perhaps from a facilitative to what I hope will be a proactive role by establishing child care as a funded system and starting to see it as an essential public service. The term "essential public service" was used in New Directions, and there was kind of a transitional period, but I think we may be on the verge of seeing that kind of proactive role. It is within that context that we are making a shift from seeing child care as a service in the marketplace, which is what we have heard here from the owners of the commercial centres; that is, looking at it as a market service. On the other side, we have heard some discussion about how we see the whole child care system. How do we conceptualize that? What is it going to look like? Then you have to ask, what role does commercial child care play in an essential public service? How do you fit it into a funding structure?

I think this is a philosophical issue. Without being critical, I think we are looking at something that has happened historically, just the way it happened in Canada with education and the way it happened with health care services and the way it has happened in other countries, most of the western industrialized countries; not Britain, by the way. Most of the countries in the European Community, except Britain and Ireland, perceive child care as a basic and essential service. This is one of the difficulties in the amalgamation of the European Community: How do services fit in? I think that is what is going on here. The coalition presentation addressed better than I can in 10 minutes how that fits in.

I want to go back here to the committee report of five years ago because I find myself thinking, "What are we doing here?" This report, which did address the commercial, non-profit child care issue, raises the same questions about accountability and quality that were raised today and have been raised in many other discussions of this issue. I think if you look at who presented it -- and it is very nicely laid out at the back who was on which side -- it also illustrates the consensus on both sides. It shows who is saying what about it. So we have here commercial operators saying, "This is my business; this is my individual right. I don't want to lose that," and we have a wide range of groups saying: "This is a public policy issue. We need to sort of move on and see how we're going to see this."

I provided a little handout, because I knew I did not have much time, of some of the groups who have addressed this issue of non-profit and for-profit child care. It did not take that long. There are a whole bunch of groups which include unions, teachers' organizations, students' organizations, church organizations, women's organizations, child care associations from across the country. I will pass those around for those of you who would like to see that. This is not just an issue of special interest groups who say that child care needs to be a basic public service and should not be for profit.

The other thing I want to say about this report, which I think is really interesting, is that some of the points being discussed here were made as recommendations in this report five years ago. In this report, the Conservative and Liberal members of the committee -- the New Democratic Party members dissented and wrote a minority report which is also in here -- recommended that the government adopt a conversion strategy, "The government should provide incentives to commercial child care operators who would like to convert to non-profit status." Is that not what is happening? So this is a Liberal and Conservative recommendation. I really want to remind you of that.

I think there are some other recommendations in here that are quite good. Dianne, you raised the question of statistics about closures and all those kinds of things. Well, another recommendation was that the government should create a central database containing the number of visits, inspections, violations of the Day Nurseries Act, follow-up procedures, a whole bunch of things. That also has not happened.

I think you should really acquaint yourselves with this report. It was a good start. We are talking about the same kinds of things, and there are many things to discuss here, but you have to keep in mind where we have come from, which is child care before the turn of the century with no government involvement.

We moved through a period in the early 1980s when the Conservatives were in power where they started providing some capital and startup funding to non-profit programs, which were even favoured then, trying to create some public policy around child care as the number of children increased and women in the labour force increased, through a period where we started seeing, under the Liberals, some government funding directly to child care outside the welfare system, outside of subsidies; a good start.

Now I hope we are looking at the creation of a real child care system in Ontario, and within that context we need to smooth the way for the people who have owned day care centres. I think that is what the conversion plan is doing. Any transition is difficult and what we need to do is move on and think about where we want to go, where we have come from and what discussion we have already had about this.

My 10 minutes are up. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation, and you are right on time.

Mr Bisson: Just very quickly, we had a presenter who was supposed to be here today, the Association for Early Childhood Education. I am just wondering if it would be okay with the opposition if we could get hold of them tomorrow morning and confirm them coming here at 1:40 and we can hear what they have to say. Is that okay? If we can confirm that tomorrow morning, fine, but if we cannot, we cannot.

The Chair: It is also a question of what is suitable to many members. They may have made other commitments. It may not need to be suitable to the opposition.

Ms Poole: Mr Chairman, Mr Bisson had already raised this possibility and I said that we had no objection to it as long as it suited members' convenience. The only difficulty is that this group has been difficult to schedule and I could not see the clerk spending a lot of time if she could not reach them easily. It might perhaps be beneficial, as long as we can make sure there is a Chair here and a certain quorum of members, to have them simply because then at least their viewpoints would be in Hansard and we would have some opportunity to ask questions. I think we are certainly agreeable as long as it can be worked out.

The Chair: All right. Do any of the members have any concerns about this rescheduling if in fact it needs to be changed? No? I think that is fine. If the clerk can work that out.

Mrs Cunningham: Why do we not try the 5 pm slot which is open tomorrow?

Mrs Y. O'Neill: That would not be nearly as convenient for me.

The Chair: All right. We will adjourn on that note.

The committee adjourned at 1713.