Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care Agreement

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Between

Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada (hereinafter referred to as “Canada” or “Government of Canada”) as represented by the Minister of Employment and Social Development (herein referred to as “the federal Minister”)

And

Her Majesty the Queen in right of the province/territory of Ontario (hereinafter referred to as Ontario” or “Government of Ontario”) as represented by the Minister of Education and Minister of Child Care and Early Years herein referred to as “the Ontario Minister”)

Referred to collectively as the “Parties”

Preamble

Whereas, Canada and Ontario agreed to a Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework on June 12, 2017 which articulated their shared vision for early learning and child care and describes their approach to achieve this vision;

Whereas, the Department of Employment and Social Development Act authorizes the federal Minister to enter into agreements with the provinces and territories, for the purpose of facilitating the formulation, coordination and implementation of any program or policy within the mandate of the federal Minister;

Whereas, the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA) authorizes the Ontario Minister to enter in agreements with the Government of Canada under which Canada undertakes to provide funding toward costs incurred by the Government of Ontario for the provision of early learning and child care programs and services;

Whereas, Canada has, pursuant to its Policy on Transfer Payments, established a transfer payment program to provide funds to the provincial and territorial governments for the development and delivery of regulated early learning and child care programs and services for children under six years of age, with consideration for families more in need;

Whereas, Canada, in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, is developing a separate framework on Indigenous early learning and child care.

Whereas, Ontario invests in early learning and child care for Indigenous children.

Now therefore, Canada and Ontario agree as follows:

1. Vision for Early Learning and Child Care

1.1 Canada and Ontario agree that the long term vision, principles and objectives for early learning and child care, which are set out in the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework that is attached as Annex 1, will guide the investment of funds provided under this Agreement.

2. Early Learning and Child Care objectives and areas of investment

2.1 Objectives

2.1.1 Canada and Ontario agree that over the period of this Agreement, with financial support from Canada, Ontario will further build its early learning and child care system by addressing local, regional and system priorities that have an impact on families more in need by increasing the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, towards achieving the objectives of:

  1. Building on existing provincial investments in early learning and child care programs to support measurable and demonstrable expansion of services/programs that continue to support children, parents, families, and communities

Ontario’s policy towards early learning and child care and approach to achieving these objectives is set out in their Action Plan attached as Annex 2.

2.2 Eligible Areas of Investment

2.2.1 Ontario agrees to prioritize funds provided by Canada under this Agreement in regulated early learning and child care programs and services, as per the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, for children under the age of six where:

  1. Regulated programs and services are defined as those that meet standards that are established and/or monitored by provincial/territorial governments.
  2. Early learning and child care programs and services are defined as those supporting direct care and early learning for children in settings including, but not limited to, regulated child care centres, regulated family child care homes, early learning centres, preschools and nursery schools.

2.2.2 In developing and delivering its early learning and child care programs and services, Ontario agrees to take into account the needs of official language minority communities in Ontario.

2.2.3 Types of investments include: capital and operating funding for regulated early learning and child care, fee subsidies, training, professional development and support for the early childhood workforce, quality assurance, parents information and referral, and administration costs incurred by Ontario in implementing and administering this Agreement.

2.2.4 Canada and Ontario also agree to promote, define, and deliver identifiable innovative approaches to enhance the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility, and inclusivity of early learning and child care systems, with consideration for those more in need.

2.2.5 Canada and Ontario agree that funding will be targeted toward programs and activities, as described above, for children under the age of six, that will have an impact on families more in need such as lower-income families, Indigenous families, lone-parent families, families in underserved communities; those working non-standard hours; and/or families with children with varying abilities. Needs also include having limited or no access to early learning and child care programs and services in the children’s official language.

3. Period of agreement

3.1 This Agreement shall come into effect upon the last signature being affixed and will remain in effect until March 31, 2020, unless terminated in writing by Canada or Ontario in accordance with the terms hereof in section 10. Funding provided under this Agreement, in accordance with section 4, will cover the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2020.

3.2 Renewal of Bilateral Agreements

3.2.1 Canada commits that the annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 will be no less than the annual allocation for all provinces and territories under this current agreement. Funding during this period will be provided upon the renewal of bilateral agreements conditional on Canada’s acceptance of new action plans and informed by the assessment of the results achieved under the action plan set out in Annex 2. The period for any renewed agreement is yet to be determined.

3.2.2 The renewal will provide Ontario and Canada the opportunity to review and course correct, if required, and realign new priorities in future bilateral agreements based on progress made to date.

4. Financial provisions

4.1 These contributions are in addition and not in lieu of those that Canada currently pays to Ontario through the Canada Social Transfer in order to support early childhood development and early learning and child care within Ontario.

4.2 Allocation to Ontario

4.2.1 Canada has designated the following maximum amounts to be transferred in total to all provinces and territories under this initiative with a fixed base rate of $2 million per year for each province and territory and the balance of the funding on a per capita basis for the period starting on April 1, 2017 and ending on March 31, 2020.

  1. $399,669,692 million for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2017
  2. $399,347,695 million for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2018
  3. $399,347,695 million for the Fiscal Year beginning on April 1, 2019

4.2.2 Subject to annual adjustment based on the formula described in section 4.2.3, Ontario’s estimated share of the amounts described in section 4.2.1 will be:

Fiscal Year Estimated amount to be paid to Ontario* (subject to annual adjustment)
2017-2018 $144.9601M
2018-2019 $144.8369M
2019-2020 $144.8369M

* Amounts represent annual estimates based on Census 2016 population numbers.

Canada commits that the annual allocation for all provinces and territories for the period 2020-21 to 2027-28 will be no less than the annual allocation for all provinces and territories of this current agreement under the conditions set in section 3.2.1.

4.2.3 The final yearly amount to be paid to Ontario will be calculated using the following formula F x K/L, where:

F is the annual total funding amount transferred to provinces and territories minus the base funding;

K is the total population of Ontario, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada;

L is the total population of Canada, as determined using annual population estimates from Statistics Canada.

4.2.4 For the purposes of the formula in section 4.2.3, the population of Ontario for each Fiscal Year and the total population of all provinces and territories for that Fiscal Year are the respective populations as determined on the basis of the quarterly preliminary estimates of the respective populations on July 1 of that Fiscal Year. These estimates are released by Statistics Canada in September of each Fiscal Year.

4.3 In this Agreement, “Fiscal Year” means the period commencing on April 1 of any calendar year and terminating on March 31 of the immediately following calendar year.

4.4 Payment

4.4.1 Canada’s contribution will be paid in approximately equal semi annual installments as follows:

The first installment will be paid on or about June 15 of each Fiscal Year. The second installment will be paid on or about November 15 of each Fiscal Year.

The amount of the first installment will be an amount equal to 50% of the notional amount of Canada’s maximum contribution to Ontario for the Fiscal Year, which will be calculated in the manner described in sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4.

The amount of the second installment will be an amount equal to the balance of Canada’s contribution to Ontario for the Fiscal Year based on the actual amount of the contribution determined under sections 4.2.3 and 4.2.4 for the Fiscal Year.

Canada will notify Ontario at the beginning of the Fiscal Year of their notional amount. The notional amount will be based on the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates on July 1 of the preceding Fiscal Year. Canada will notify Ontario of the actual amount of the second installment in each Fiscal Year as determined under the formula set out in section 4.2.3 as soon as possible following the release in September of each year of the Statistics Canada quarterly preliminary population estimates referred to in section 4.2.4.

Canada shall withhold payment of its second installment for the Fiscal Year if Ontario has failed to provide its annual audited financial statement for the previous Fiscal Year in accordance with section 5.2.1 (d) until such time as the annual audited statement is provided.

The sum of both semi annual installments constitutes a final payment and is not subject to any further adjustment once the second installment of that Fiscal Year has been paid.

Payment of Canada’s funding for each Fiscal Year of this Agreement is subject to an annual appropriation by the Parliament of Canada for this purpose. Likewise, use of the funding by Ontario is subject to an annual appropriation by Ontario’s Legislature.

4.5 Maximum annual contribution in respect of administration costs

4.5.1 Canada’s contribution in respect of Ontario’s administration costs referred to in section 2.2.3 shall not exceed:

In Fiscal Years 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 an amount up to 10% of the maximum amount payable for those Fiscal Years.

4.6 Carry Forward

4.6.1 At the request of Ontario and subject to the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, Ontario may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019, an amount of up to 50% of the contribution paid to Ontario for 2017-2018 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by Ontario in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2018-2019 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.2 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2018-2019 under this section is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Ontario under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2018-2019.

4.6.3 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.6.1 must be spent by March 31, 2019. Ontario is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2019, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada’s contribution for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that Fiscal Year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.7.

4.6.4 At the request of Ontario and subject to the approval of Canada’s Treasury Board, Ontario may retain and carry forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020, an amount of up to 10% of the contribution paid to Ontario for 2018-2019 under section 4.2.3 that is in excess of the amount of eligible costs actually incurred by Ontario in that Fiscal Year, and may only use the amount carried forward to 2019-2020 for expenditures on eligible areas of investment under section 2.2 incurred in that Fiscal Year.

4.6.5 For greater certainty, the amount carried forward to Fiscal Year 2019-2020 under this section is supplementary to the maximum amount payable to Ontario under section 4.2.3 of this Agreement in 2019-2020.

4.6.6 The amount carried forward pursuant to section 4.6.4 must be spent by March 31, 2020. Ontario is not entitled to retain any such carried forward amounts that remain unexpended after March 31, 2020, nor is it entitled to retain any balance of Canada’s contribution for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 paid pursuant to section 4.2.3 that remains unexpended at the end of that fiscal year. Such amounts are to be repaid to Canada in accordance with section 4.7.

4.7 Repayment of overpayment

4.7.1 In the event payments made to Ontario exceed the amount to which Ontario is entitled under the Agreement, the amount of the excess is a debt due to Canada and shall be repaid to Canada upon receipt of notice to do so and within the period specified in the notice.

4.8 Use of Funds

4.8.1 Canada and Ontario agree that funds provided under this Agreement will only be used by Ontario in accordance with the areas for investment outlined in section 2.2 of this Agreement.

5. Accountability

5.1 Action Plan

5.1.1 Ontario has completed and shared its Action Plan for the years 2017-18 – 2019-20 of federal funding with Canada, as set out in Annex 2. Upon signature of this Agreement by both Parties, Ontario will publicly release their Action Plan which:

  1. Identifies specific priority areas for investment and objectives, within the Framework’s parameters, which builds upon the progress to date in the quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and/or inclusivity of their early learning and child care system, with consideration for those more in need;
  2. Describes how Ontario plans to address the early learning and child care needs of its children/families more in need, including families that have limited access to programs and services in their official language;
  3. Outlines their planned innovation spending;
  4. Demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing Ontario early learning and child care spending, in particular spending dedicated to Indigenous populations;
  5. Outlines the indicators that will be reported on annually according to their planned investments;
  6. Identifies specific targets for each indicator that will be reported on annually for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  7. Identifies additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement;
  8. A description of consultation processes referred to in section 5.1.2, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback.

5.1.2 Ontario will consult with parents, child care providers, experts, Indigenous peoples, official language minority communities and other interested Canadians as an important step in developing and revising its Action Plan.

5.2 Reporting

5.2.1 By no later than October 1 of each Fiscal Year during the Period of this Agreement, Ontario agrees to:

  1. Report to the people of Ontario and to Canada on the results and expenditures of early learning and child care programs and services. The report shall include the number of children receiving subsidies, number of licensed early learning and child care spaces broken down by age of child and type of setting. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement.
  2. Continue to provide to Canada data required for the publication of the joint Federal-Provincial/Territorial report on Public Investments in Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada.
  3. Provide to Canada an Annual Report in the format and manner decided jointly by Canada and Ontario. The report shall show separately the results attributable to the funding provided by Canada under this Agreement and shall include:
    1. Brief description of the activities, expenditures and results of the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care Agreement as set out in Annex 2;
    2. Results achieved according to the indicators and targets referred to in Annex 2;
    3. Impact on families more in need, including families that have limited access to programs and services in their official language referred to in Annex 2;
    4. Results achieved on innovation referred to in Annex 2;
    5. Description of consultation processes, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback referred to in Annex 2; and
    6. Any additional results of evaluation activities undertaken in the Fiscal Year, as available.
  4. Provide to Canada an audited financial statement of revenues received from Canada under this Agreement during the Fiscal Year
    1. The revenue section of the statement shall show the amount received from Canada under this Agreement during the Fiscal Year.
    2. The total amount of funding used for ELCC programs and services under section 2.2.
    3. The administration costs incurred by Ontario in developing and administering ELCC programs under section 2.2.3.
    4. If applicable, the amount of any amount carried forward by Ontario under section 4.6.
    5. If applicable, the amount of any surplus funds that are to be repaid to Canada under section 4.7.

The financial statement shall be prepared in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the audit shall be performed by the Ontario Auditor General or his/her delegate, or by an independent public accounting firm registered under the laws of Ontario and shall be conducted in accordance with Canadian Generally Accepted Auditing Standards.

5.2.2 Canada, with prior notice to Ontario, may incorporate all or any part or parts of the said report into any public report that Canada may prepare for its own purposes, including any reports to the Parliament of Canada or reports that may be made public.

5.3 Audit

5.3.1 Ontario will ensure that expenditure information presented in the annual report is, in accordance with Ontario’s standard accounting practices, complete and accurate.

5.4 Evaluation

5.4.1 As per established policies and processes with respect to program effectiveness, Ontario will evaluate programs and services receiving funds provided under this Agreement and make public the results of any such evaluations.

6. Long-term collaboration

6.1 Canada and Ontario agree to share and release data as available, and knowledge, research and information on effective and innovative practices in early learning and child care, to further support the development of and reporting on quality and outcomes. Canada and Ontario agree to work together, and with stakeholders, towards the development of common quality and outcome measures that could be included in bilateral agreements in the future that could reinforce the Framework’s long-term vision.

6.2 Canada and Ontario agree to work together to improve data collection and dissemination on key early learning and child care information for children under age six.

7. Communications

7.1 Canada and Ontario agree on the importance of communicating with citizens about the objectives of this Agreement in an open, transparent, effective and proactive manner through appropriate public information activities.

7.2 Each government will receive the appropriate credit and visibility when investments financed through funds granted under this Agreement are announced to the public.

7.3 Canada reserves the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the F-P/T ELCC Framework and bilateral agreements. Canada agrees to give Ontario 10 days advance notice of public communications related to the F-P/T ELCC Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

7.4 Ontario reserves the right to conduct public communications, announcements, events, outreach and promotional activities about the F-P/T ELCC Framework and bilateral agreements. Ontario agrees to give Canada 10 days advance notice and advance copies of public communications related to the F-P/T ELCC Framework, bilateral agreements, and results of the investments of this Agreement.

8. Dispute resolution

8.1 Canada and Ontario are committed to working together and avoiding disputes through government-to-government information exchange, advance notice, early consultation, and discussion, clarification, and resolution of issues, as they arise.

8.2 If at any time either Canada or Ontario is of the opinion that the other Party has failed to comply with any of its obligations or undertakings under this Agreement or is in breach of any term or condition of the Agreement, Canada or Ontario, as the case may be, may notify the other party in writing of the failure or breach. Upon such notice, Canada and Ontario will endeavour to resolve the issue in dispute bilaterally through their Designated Officials.

8.3 If a dispute cannot be resolved by Designated Officials, then the dispute will be referred to the Deputy Ministers of Canada and Ontario most responsible for early learning and child care, and if it cannot be resolved by them, then the federal Minister and Ontario Minister shall endeavour to resolve the dispute.

9. Amendments to the Agreement

9.1 This Agreement, including all attached annexes, may be amended at any time by mutual consent of the Parties. To be valid, any amendments shall be in writing and signed, in the case of Canada, by the federal Minister, and in the case of Ontario, by the Ontario Minister.

10. Termination

10.1 Canada may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by Ontario by giving at least 12 months written notice of its intention to terminate. Ontario may terminate this Agreement at any time if the terms of this Agreement are not respected by Canada by giving at least 12 months written notice of its intention to terminate.

10.2 As of the effective date of termination of this Agreement under section 10.1, Canada shall have no obligation to make any further payments to Ontario after the date of effective termination.

11. Notice

11.1 Any notice, information or document provided for under this Agreement will be effectively given if delivered or sent by letter, postage or other charges prepaid. Any notice that is delivered will have been received in delivery; and, except in periods of postal disruption, any notice mailed will be deemed to have been received eight calendar days after being mailed.

The address for notice or communication to Canada shall be:

140 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Québec K1A 0J9

The address for notice or communication to Ontario shall be:

900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1L2

12. General

12.1 This Agreement, including Annexes 1 and 2, comprise the entire agreement entered into by the Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof.

12.2 This Agreement is based on the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, Annex 1, concluded on June 12, 2017.

12.3 This Agreement shall be interpreted according to the laws of Canada and Ontario.

12.4 No member of the House of Commons or of the Senate of Canada or of the Legislature of Ontario shall be admitted to any share or part of this Agreement, or to any benefit arising therefrom.

12.5 If for any reason a provision of this Agreement that is not a fundamental term is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to be or to have become invalid or unenforceable, in whole or in part, it will be deemed to be severable and will be deleted from this Agreement, but all the other provisions of this Agreement will continue to be valid and enforceable.

12.6 This Agreement is drafted in English at the request of the Parties. Les parties ont convenu que le présent Accord soit rédigé en anglais.

Signed on behalf of Canada by the Minister of Employment and Social Development at Mothercraft this 16th day of June, 2017.

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Employment and Social Development

Signed on behalf of Ontario by the Minister of Early Years and Child Care at Mothercraft this 16th day of June, 2017.

The Honourable Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of Early Years and Child Care

Signed on behalf of Ontario by the Minister of Education at Mothercraft this 16th day of June, 2017.

The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education

Annex 1: Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers most responsible for Early Learning and Child Care agreeFootnote 1 on the importance of supporting parents, families and communities in their efforts to ensure the best possible future for their children. For more details on this agreement, please consult the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Annex 2: Ontario’s action plan

The 2016 Federal Budget committed $400M in 2017-18 to support the establishment of the Multilateral Early Learning Child Care (ELCC) Framework with provinces and territories. Additionally, the 2017 Federal Budget committed $7B over 10 years, starting in 2018-2019. A portion of this investment will be dedicated to early learning and child care programs for Indigenous children living on- and off-reserve. Ontario’s notional allocations are (actual allocations may vary according to the latest annual population estimates):

  • 2017/18: $145.0M
  • 2018/19: $144.8M
  • 2019/20: $144.8M

Key Information related to Early Years and Child Care in Ontario

Ontario’s vision for the early years is to ensure that Ontario’s children and families are well supported by a system of responsive, high-quality, accessible and increasingly integrated early years programs and services that contribute to healthy child development today and a stronger future tomorrow.

Since 2010, a number of steps have been taken toward Ontario’s vision, including the release of the Ontario Early Years Policy Framework implementation of Full-Day Kindergarten, the release of a new child care funding formula, the development of a new pedagogical approach for the early years - How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years, the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, and banning wait list fees.

The five-year rollout of Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) began in the 2010-11 school year and was completed in the 2014-15 school year. The 2016-17 school year is the third year of full implementation of FDK across Ontario

  • FDK is a child-centred, developmentally appropriate, integrated program of learning available to all four- and five-year-old children in publicly funded schools.
  • FDK reaches approximately 260,000 students annually throughout Ontario.

The Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA) is the legislation governing child care in Ontario and it requires all child care centres that serve more than five children to be licensed.

The CCEYA includes regulations related to child care licensing, policies and procedures, building and accommodation, equipment and furnishings, playgrounds, records, staffing and group sizes, nutrition, programming and health and medical issues.

  • As set out in a Minister’s Policy statement, How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years is named as the provincial framework to guide programming and pedagogy in licensed child care (http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/HowLearningHappens.pdf).
  • Additional regulations, such as the requirement to have a program statement that is consistent with the Minister’s policy statement, help child care programs put this pedagogical framework into practice.  

The CCEYA includes regulations related to before and after school programs.

  • Policies and guidelines for before and after school programs include staff qualifications, ratios and group size; health and safety, providing time for active play.
  • In order to support access, as of September 1, 2016, new regulatory amendments under the CCEYA came into effect that prohibit child care centres and home child care agencies from charging a waiting list fee or deposit to parents seeking to be added to or removed from a waiting list.
  • As of January 1, 2017, licensees are required to develop a waiting list policy that must be available to all parents that provides an explanation of how the centre or agency determines the order in which children on the waiting list are offered admission. New regulations also require that waiting list status be made available to those on the waiting list, on demand, in a manner that ensures that personal information is protected.

In addition to the CCEYA, Ontario is moving forward with implementation of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres beginning January 1, 2018. This approach will transform four existing early years programs into an increasingly integrated, cohesive system of services and supports for children ages 0-6 and their parents and caregivers (see Appendix A for further information).

  • EDU currently funds four child and family programs, Ontario Early Years Centres, Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, Child Care Resource Centres and Better Beginnings, Better Futures.

Most recently in Ontario, the 2016 Throne Speech and the 2017 Budget committedto creating 100,000 new licensed child care spaces for children aged 0-4 over the next five years.

  • From Fall 2016 to Winter 2017, the Ministry of Education (EDU) conducted extensive province-wide engagement guided by its discussion paper, Building a Better Future: A Discussion Paper for Transforming Early Years and Child Care in Ontario.
  • The information obtained through this extensive consultation with various stakeholders and subject matter experts was used to develop Ontario’s Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework (to be released in Spring 2017).

Overview of the Child Care system in Ontario

  • The province develops policy, legislation and regulations to govern the licensed child care system and provides funding to service system managers (Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs)/District Social Services Administration Boards (DSSABs)) to support general operating, fee subsidies, special needs resourcing and wage enhancement.

The province is also responsible for licensing, inspection and enforcement under the CCEYA, and its regulations. As well as responsible for investigating and responding to complaints in licensed and unlicensed child care.

  • The CCEYA introduced stronger oversight mechanisms with greater enforcement tools and protections to enhance safety of children in licensed and unlicensed child care settings.

Service system managers are responsible for local system planning, and can administer fee subsidies for parents and allocate provincial funding to child care through contractual agreements with child care licensees operated by individuals, non-profit or for-profit corporations, large multi-service operators, municipalities and First Nations.

The ministry’s child care funding formula provides provincial funding to CMSMs and DSSABs based on an evidence-based and equitable approach to funding that responds to demographic changes and local needs for licensed child care services. The funding formula relies on publicly available data to drive an equitable funding allocation to child care service managers across the province.

  • To model cost per space, EDU uses average parental fee (based on the child care operator’s survey) and financial details reported to the ministry in past years.

Within these parameters, service system managers have flexibility to determine how to allocate child care funding to best meet the local needs of children, families and child care operators.

  • This flexibility is critical in ensuring that the early years system across Ontario best responds to the needs and priorities of local communities, including the unique needs related to French and English linguistic minority communities, Indigenous peoples and families in need.

There are three key methods to create child care spaces, including capital funding, operating funding, and fee subsidy.

  • Capital funding can include new builds and retrofits, while increasing access through operating funding and fee subsidy can include but is not limited to, new child care spaces available as a result of additional staff, increased hours, or other program changes that increase the number of children served by a program.

In terms of accountability, the ministry requests expenditure data as well as service data outlining the number of children supported by new fee subsidies, increased access through new spaces created and reduced parental fees to parents.

A) Objectives and specific priority areas for investment within the Framework’s parameters, with consideration for those more in need.

Ontario’s proposed action plan is consistent with the parameters established under the Multilateral ELCC Framework. The action plan is reflective of the Framework’s guiding principles to increase quality, accessibility, affordability, flexibility and inclusivity in early learning and child care, with consideration of those more in need. The action plan is also reflective of diversity, and respectful of language and culture.

The Framework also aligns with Ontario’s current early years and child care priorities and vision that children and families are well supported by a system of responsive, high quality, accessible, affordable and increasingly integrated early years programs and services that contribute to healthy child development today and a stronger future tomorrow.

The proposed investments under Ontario’s action plan build on existing provincial investments in early learning and child care and are focused on programs that are regulated and/or monitored by the provincial government. The action plan supports both regulated centre and home based child care, as well as early learning programs.

Ontario’s two priority areas are:

  1. Increasing access, affordability and inclusivity to high quality child care with consideration for families more in need, such as lower-income families; Indigenous families; lone-parent families; families in underserved communities; those working non-standard hours; and/or families with children with varying abilities
  2. Quality early learning opportunities, with consideration for those more in need
Fiscal Impact 2017-18 ($M) 2018-19 ($M) 2019-20 ($M)
ELCC Multilateral Framework $144.9601M $144.8369M $144.8369M
Initiatives offset from ELCC Multilateral Framework
High Quality Child Care $100.000M $100.000M $100.000M

Minimum of 80% of this investment will be allocated to support access to affordable, quality child care through increased subsidies and/or community based capital for children 0-6 years of age

Maximum of 20% of this investment will be allocated to support system access to

affordable child care based on local priorities

Quality Early Learning $44.9601M $44.8369M $44.8369
Access to no cost high-quality early years experiences through Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres $39.9601M $39.8369M $39.8369M
Access to high quality training and professional development opportunities to support a high-quality early years and child care workforce
  • Early Childhood Education Qualifications Upgrade Program
  • Regional Centres of Excellence
$5.0000M $5.0000M $5.0000M
Total $144.9601M $144.8369M $144.8369M

High Quality Child Care

For Year 1 (2017-18), EDU is proposing the following allocations:

  • $100M related to regulated child care initiatives, including,
  • at least $80M to support access to affordable, quality child care through increased subsidies and/or community based capital for children aged 0-6
  • up to $20M to support system access to affordable child care based on local priorities

Affordability is a key challenge for many families in Ontario. This investment into high quality child care will support families in need through increased investment in subsidies, with a prioritization for children under 6.

  • Fee subsidies are available for children in licensed child care, as well as for school-age children enrolled in before and after school programs, including approved recreation programs.

In many parts of the province, the demand for fee subsidies exceeds available funding. CMSMs/DSSABs maintain wait lists when this is the case. Access to fee subsidies is based on availability of subsidy funds within the budget of the CMSM/DSSAB, as well as availability of space.

  • CMSMs and DSSABs determine eligibility based on provincial requirements, including a regulated income test; however, there is flexibility to allocate where parents may not have an identified need through the income test but where there are unique needs that may require additional child care funding (e.g. supporting children with special needs, or families facing exceptional circumstances such as referrals from children’s aid societies or victims of domestic violence).
  • In addition to the income test, CMSMs/DSSABs have historically undertaken local planning processes to assess the socio- economic factors and to determine the appropriate allocation approach for fee subsidy funds that best meet the needs of their community; this allows them the flexibility to weigh factors differently based on local community needs. Local policies are already in place to support the distribution of fee subsidies to children and families; however social assistance participants (e.g. Ontario Works) should be prioritized where possible. CMSMs/DSSABs also have additional local requirements to determine the amount of subsidized child care for each eligible family. Local policies allow for prioritization for certain socio-economic factors such as income levels of families with children (including low income or single parent families), geographic areas (such as wards, lower tier municipalities, territory without municipal organization, high growth areas, children’s age groups, cultural and linguistic groups such as Indigenous peoples and Francophone.

Quality Early Learning

For Year 1 (2017-18), EDU is proposing the following allocations:

  • $39.9M annually to support access to no cost, high quality early years experiences through the expansion of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres, which are tailored to meet diverse populations with a focus on families in need.
  • $5M to support innovative approaches that provide access to high quality training and professional development opportunities for the early years and child care workforce. This includes:
    • $2M to increase the number of students supported through the Early Childhood Education Qualifications Upgrade program. This program currently supports individuals in need working in licensed home or centre-based agencies, early learning programs, or publicly funded schools to obtain an Early Childhood Education diploma, and become eligible to apply for membership with the College of Early Childhood Educators. It also provides opportunities for leadership development, targeted to those working in supervisorial roles or who aspire to do so, and who already are a Registered Early Childhood Educator.

Background

  • The Ministry of Education currently invests $3.5M annually in the Early Childhood Education Qualifications Upgrade Program and requires the program to allocate a minimum of 20% of the annual funding to Francophone and First Nation, Metis, and Inuit (FMNI) applicants.
  • To date, the Grant Program has received over 9,080 applications and has approved 6,001 part-time and 1,545 full-time applications. Since its inception, in 2007, approximately 1,343 full-time and 4,974 part-time grant recipients have successfully completed the ECE diploma program with the financial assistance offered through the program.
  • Additionally, 29 individuals have been supported through the leadership development stream.
  • For the 2015/16 year, the program allocated 23.74% of its funding to Francophone and FNMI students with approximately 60% of this funding allocated the Francophone students and 40% to FNMI students
  • Based on this additional investment, EDU will be working towards building on this program to find innovative ways to increase uptake and expand access to the program to increase the number of registered Early Childhood Educators in child care and early years programs. 

$3M to develop six brand new Regional Centres of Excellence that will be able to connect practitioners, education institutions, and employers through innovative networks in recognition of the importance that access to quality training experiences, and professional development opportunities has on children who access child care and early years programs. The proposed model looks at establishing three streams – regional stream (based on the current six Ministry of Education regions across the province), Francophone stream, and an Indigenous stream. One Regional Centre of Excellence out of the six new centres will be dedicated to the Francophone stream. These streams would be responsible for developing and delivering professional learning opportunities and also be connected to ensure similar opportunities are being provided across the province.

Provincial programs have to align with the requirements under Ontario’s French Languages Services Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires provincial programs to reflect the needs of the 26 areas in the province with a significant Francophone population. However, regardless of FSLA designation, the Ministry of Education would support professional learning opportunity to individuals in the official language of their choice.

It is important to note that the province currently allocates early years and child care funding based on a funding formula. The funding approach includes the use of Statistics Canada data to provide a special purpose allocation to supplement core funding and reflect the unique local and regional costs of providing services and increasing access to child care and early years programs. For example, communities that have a higher Francophone population can access a special purpose grant on top of their core funding in order to provide services to official language minority communities. Funding allocations for each Regional Centre of Excellence have not been determined as the operating model is still under development.

Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres

Currently, there is a great deal of variability between programs in terms of programming, mandate funding and geographic distribution. This has resulted in service gaps and inconsistencies in quality and access for parents/caregivers.

The transformed service system will help to improve child and family outcomes related to mental health and well-being, early learning and development, social inclusion, academic achievement, and employment to ensure the best possible future for children.

This will be accomplished through the provision of easily accessible and identifiable “one-stop shops” that will provide a wide variety of relevant services and connections to specialized supports which will ensure:

  • Parents, caregivers and home child care providers have access to high quality services that provide rich early learning experiences and environments that support them in their role and enhance their well-being.
  • Children have access to inclusive, play and inquiry-based learning opportunities and demonstrate positive developmental health and enhanced well-being at entry to Grade 1.
  • Parents, caregivers and home child care providers have enhanced knowledge about early learning and development, experience ease and efficiency in accessing support and are provided with an accessible, non-stigmatized place to seek help.
  • Local services collaborate in an integrated way to meet the needs of children and families and actively engage parents and caregivers to increase their participation.
  • Connection to the broader continuum of early years programs available in Ontario, including licensed child care, Full-Day Kindergarten and Before- and After-School Programs.

For some families, especially those in harder to serve populations, this may be the only access point to high-quality programs run by Registered Early Childhood Educators in a regulated setting.

Additionally, this funding will support innovative approaches to further strengthen access to programs and services as part of the early years continuum (including linkages to child care options) to establish a strong foundation for learning in the early years.

At no cost to parents and/or caregivers, Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will be required to offer a suite of core mandatory services related to three key elements:

  1. engaging parents and caregivers – e.g. targeted outreach activities directed at parents and caregivers that could benefit from OEYCFC programs and services but are not currently accessing services for a variety of reasons (e.g., newcomers to Ontario, teen parents, low-income families, linguistic minorities etc.)
  2. supporting early learning and development – e.g. have at least one Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) as part of their staff teams delivering services and adopt How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years as their common pedagogical approach based on the four foundations of learning: belonging, well-being, engagement and expression, and view of the child, family and educators as capable, competent learners who are full of potential.
  3. making connections for family – e.g. information sharing about and facilitating connections with specialized community services (such as children’s rehabilitation services), coordinated service planning, public health, education, child care, and child welfare, as appropriate.

Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will offer programs and services through a variety of service delivery methods including: centres, mobile services, virtual hubs and local phone lines. While the requirement to establish centres is mandatory, providing mobile services, virtual resources and local phone lines is optional and at the discretion of individual CMSMs/DSSABs. Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres are intended to be community-based, including schools, community buildings/spaces, and common areas within residential areas.

Service System Managers will also have the flexibility to offer customized services through a variety of delivery methods. These services will be uniquely tailored to meet community needs in partnership with broader community services and to be responsive to the diverse needs of families, especially those in need (e.g., newcomers to Ontario, Francophones, First Nations, Métis and Inuit, LGBT).

  • Examples include information sharing and sessions in coordination with other community service providers (e.g. The federally funded Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program, settlement services, income tax clinics, child welfare agencies, etc)
  • French language and bilingual child care and Ontario Early Years Child and Family Programs are offered at locations across Ontario. Ontario's funding municipalities encourages official language programs and services through its transfer agreements and funding guidelines.

Of the 5, 276 child care centres across the province, 280 (5%) centres offer French language programming, and a further 52 centres (1%) offer bilingual programming. Collectively, almost 8% of the child care spaces in Ontario offer French or bilingual programming.

Under the current delivery model, there are approximately 12 agencies providing bilingual and/or francophone child and family programs.

Training and professional development opportunities

Ontario will build on the innovative Qualifications Upgrade Program initiative that supports individuals with financial barriers in obtaining their ECE qualifications. This program supports training of high-quality educators, as well as labour market participation for those in need. Expansion of this program is recognition of the importance of qualifications and training for the early years workforce, and will support greater access to supports for professional learning and development opportunities.

The Regional Centres of Excellence is a new innovative initiative that will support transformational change in the sector, and signal both the provincial and federal commitment to long-term professional learning across the early years sector. These centres will take into account particular needs including cultural, language and geography (e.g Indigenous, Francophone, rural) through the development of specialized networks.

  • Unlike school boards in Ontario, the early years sector does not have a province-wide infrastructure in place to support the development of and access to consistent professional learning and capacity building activities for those working in early years settings.
  • It would support a continuum of learning for educators from pre-service to in-service learning and development. Research shows that ongoing learning is strongly correlated with high quality programs.
  • This approach would support consistent high quality programming in child care programs and Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres by providing a consistent approach to the understanding and use of How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years.
  • To further enhance official language learning environments there will also be a Quality Centre of Excellence for French Language Early Years Programs.

For Years 2 & 3, EDU is proposing the following:

A funding profile similar to Year 1 so that both the child care and early learning systems in Ontario can continue to expand their services and support parents, families and communities. This consistent approach to incremental funding will help to ensure the best possible future for children in Ontario. This will also allow for innovative and transformative partnerships between Ontario and the Federal government. Ontario will be releasing a Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework in Spring 2017. As part of this framework, longer term goals and priorities will be identified and there will be opportunities to develop different options for leveraging data.

  • Additionally, as part of the renewed early years and child care framework, the ministry will release S’épanouir dans la francophonie, a Resource Document on Aménagement Linguistique for the Early Years in Ontario to provide guidance to parents of young children, as well as all those working in the French-language early years and child care sector, by setting expectations, objectives and strategic goals with respect to aménagement linguistique (linguistic planning to support the protection, transmission and valorization of the French language and Francophone culture).

It is also important to note that due to potential funding changes as a result of annual updates made to the funding formula by the federal government, this allocation breakdown, and associated targets are subject to confirmation of actual annual funding.

Research:

As the foundation of evidenced-based decision-making strong research that has demonstrated outcomes is critical.

Early years research has shown that high quality early years programs and integrated service delivery models have a significant and measureable impact on immediate and long-term outcomes for children, families and their communities.

Moving towards greater quality and consistency is critical as quality early years interventions positively support not only children’s overall academic attainment, but their future financial stability and well-being as adults (Rolnick & Grunewald, 2003; Heckman & Masterov, 2004).

A recent study by James Heckman shows that high-quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children (0-5 years) can deliver a 13% per year return on investment, meaning the program can generate a benefit of 6.3 dollars for every dollar spent on it a year.(Garcia, Heckman, Leaf & Prados, 2016)

In addition, high quality early years programs have a significant and measureable impact on immediate and long-term outcomes for children in social, emotional, language and literacy development, cognitive skills, self-regulation and academic achievement (Shanker, 2013; Esping-Andersen et al., 2012; Ishimine et al., 2010).

Further, constant activation of the body’s stress responses in the absence of caring, stable relationships in the early years can be toxic to the brain’s developing architecture. When stressors are severe and lasting, it is critical to intervene with supports that address the source of the stress and the lack of stabilizing relationships (Harvard Center on the Developing Child).

  • The approach to implementing Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will provide important opportunities for children and families to engage in high quality play and inquiry-based programs, enhance their mental health and well-being, and access additional specialized supports when necessary.

There is also compelling research evidence showing the positive immediate and long-term impact of existing Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centre on children and how these programs support children and families.

  • A series of studies have been conducted on one type of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centre called Parent and Family Literacy Centres (PFLCs) by the Toronto District School board to evaluate the effectiveness of PFLCs on children.
  • Using the Early Development Instrument (EDI) (one of the 8 Poverty Strategy Reduction indicators), the research demonstrated the difference the PFLCs can make for children, including those in high-needs neighbourhoods.
  • Children who attend PFLCs are better prepared for school, and demonstrate better school engagement and academic outcomes than their school peers of similar background (Yao, 2005, 2010; Yao, Parekh, & Luo, 2012).
  • The longitudinal evaluation of another type of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres, Better Beginnings, Better Futures (BBBFs) demonstrate that BBBFs promote long-term development of children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods and produce monetary benefits to government as soon as 10 years after program completion (Peters et al., 2015).

In terms of the importance of service integration, integrated service delivery models have been proven to generate a high social return on investment.

  • Research has shown that integrated early years services, where a single point of access links families to a variety of early years services (parent resources, drop in programs, early identification), provide a return of at least $2.39 for every $1 of investment (Community Hubs in Ontario, 2015).
  • Integrated models in other jurisdictions have been shown to generate even higher returns – the higher the level of integration, the greater the gains.

B) Describes how Ontario plans to address the early learning and child care needs of its children/families more in need

Investments related to child care initiatives will support children and families in need through increased access and affordability to licensed child care, by creating subsides and capital funding that will allow for more responsive services that are flexible and can respond to the varying needs of children and families.

Increased funding that supports access, affordability, quality and capital will provide for a mix of new and existing spaces.

There is a high demand for access to licensed spaces; however, affordability is a challenge for many families and can be a barrier to accessing these spaces.

  • In some communities, the demand for licensed care spaces is high, and there is currently not enough spaces to meet this demand.
  • Additionally, in some communities families cannot afford to access licensed care space without the support of a fee subsidy.

This increased investment will help children and families in need access quality and affordable child care, and supports women’s labour market participation.

  • High-quality, affordable, accessible and flexible options for child care are an important part of women's economic empowerment, and can help close the gender wage gap by supporting women's participation in, and re-entry to, the labour market.

By supporting both new and existing spaces, the $100M allocation for child care supports the principles of high quality, accessible, affordable and inclusive as identified in the ELCC Framework.

  • Increased fee subsides and capital investment* of $100M could support approximately 11,200 children.

* Note: this modelling is based on fee subsidies, and targets for capital investment will be adjusted post municipal plan approvals.

Building on the current system in place to flow funds to CMSMs/DSSABs, EDU will set an overarching target for municipalities and they will be required to report back on their plan related to the specific funding allocations and age groupings (e.g. 0-4 and 4 and over).

This element of the action plan will provide services to families more in need including lower-income families, Indigenous families, lone-parent families, families in under-served communities, those working non-standard hours and families with children of varying abilities.

Additionally, Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will provide targeted outreach activities directed at families in need that could benefit from programs and services, but are not currently accessing them for a variety of reasons (e.g. newcomers to Ontario, teen parents, low-income families, etc.). They will also build strong, responsive and respectful relationships that not only support optimal learning for children, but will also have a role in making connections for families and information sharing about programs and services available for the whole family (beyond just the early years). For example:

  • Targeted services to parents can include on-site child minding so they can participate in specific skills development courses (e.g. resume workshops) to support labour-market participation. Additionally, these centres can provide information and offer support to parents as they look for child care.

Note: Child minding services are permitted as long as parents/caregivers remain onsite in alignment with requirements under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.

  • Caregivers using these programs can include home child care providers. These programs can support providers in offering high-quality experiences to children in their care (e.g. drop-in programs that foster responsive relationships and encourage children’s exploration, play and inquiry). Additionally, these centres can offer learning and development opportunities for these providers on various topics, including child development, nutrition, play and inquiry based learning.
  • In Ontario, approximately 30,000 children are served by licensed home child care.

Expansion investment in Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will improve child and family outcomes related to mental health and well-being, early learning and development, social inclusion, academic achievement, and employment

This investment will grow the positive impacts being made by existing child and family programs across the province, and expand service in areas that have relatively few available services and/or have experienced significant population growth.

This element of the action plan will provide services to families more in need including lower-income families, Indigenous families, lone-parent families, families in under-served communities, those working non-standard hours and families with children of varying abilities.

C) Outlines provincial/territorial planned innovation spending

In recognition of the increasingly complex and challenging environments that early learning and child care programs are operating in, Ontario has undertaken significant work to develop innovative practices that modernize and transform the early years system.

  • With implementation of FDK, Ontario became increasingly aware of some of the challenges facing the child care system and early years programs including gaps in program quality, sector leadership and data collection, outdated funding and legislative frameworks, lack of access to licensed child care and affordability.
  • As discussed earlier, Ontario has taken many steps to address some of these challenges through the development and implementation of new legislation, a pedagogy to support early learning, and increased investments to support the system as a whole, but also for families in need.

Ontario realizes there is still more work to be done and will be releasing a Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework in Spring 2017.

  • This framework has been developed through extensive consultation with partners, stakeholders and subject matter experts across the province with the goal of supporting an integrated and more sustainable system of early years and child care programs focused on accessibility, affordability, responsiveness and quality.

Building on this modernization journey and the innovative approaches that have been developed, Ontario will continue work and begin collaboration with the Federal government to deliver early learning and child care programs that will reflect local and regional needs, and also strengthen the social and economic fabric of Ontario.

Increased funding to support access to high quality licensed child care could support innovative service delivery, including more part-time or flexible care for non-standard hours.

  • Innovative practices around part-time and flexible care for non-standard hours will help better meet the needs of some children and families, and allow for access to high-quality regulated care to support labour market participation.

Innovative practices have been built into the foundation of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres in both the services being offered to families (e.g. targeted outreach to vulnerable families who are not currently accessing services) and actual delivery methods are used to connect with families (e.g. physical centres, mobile services, and virtual services and resources).

  • The transformation and expansion of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will further build on the research evidence discussed earlier that demonstrates the positive, immediate and long-term, impact of existing family support programs.

Innovation related to child care and early learning programs, as discussed above, also support program sustainability. Programs that have the flexibility to better meet the needs of children and families will also be more sustainable over the longer term.

Through expansion of the Qualifications Upgrade Program and the creation of Regional Centres of Excellence, Ontario will be pursuing innovative solutions to address some of the barriers to accessing quality training, and professional development opportunities.

  • High-quality education and professional development opportunities for educators have a great impact on a child’s learning experiences and environment and support positive lifelong benefits

Investments that support high-quality training and professional development opportunities under the ELCC Framework are complementary to Ontario’s Workforce Strategy, which is a key initiative under Ontario’s Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework. This collaboration will allow for joint communications and recognition.

D) Demonstrates that federal investments will be incremental, and will not displace existing provincial/territorial early learning and child care spending

The Ontario government is committed to maintaining current investments.

Since 2003-04, the provincial government has more than doubled child care funding to more than $1.3 billion annually. These investments have supported child care stabilization and helped to increase the number of child care spaces, in particular spaces in before and after school programs to align with full-day kindergarten. Investments include:

  • $269 million over three years to support wage enhancement for eligible child care professionals working in licensed child care.
  • Between 2011-12 and 2016-17 the Ontario government has increased child care funding to First Nations from $17.7M to $27.7M.

On September 12, 2016, the provincial government made a historic commitment in announcing a major Child Care Expansion Plan. This plan will support access to licensed child care for 100,000 more children aged 0-4 years old over the next five years.

For 2017-18, an investment of $200 million was announced in the 2017 Budget to support access to licensed child care for 24,000 more children aged 0-4.

The Ontario government currently invests over $100M in existing child and family programs and has publicly committed to maintaining its existing investment for Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres.

This investment will be re-distributed through a new funding approachFootnote 2 which takes into account multiple data elements. These data elements are collected, regularly updated and publicly reported by the Ontario Ministry of Finance and/or Statistics Canada.

Ontario currently invests $2M for the Qualifications Upgrade Program and is committed to continuing that investment.

E) Outlines the indicators that will be reported on annually according provincial/territorial planned investments

Programs Principles Indicators Related to Planned Investment Data Currently Available Annual Report
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
High Quality Child Care High Quality Number and percentage of providers with Early Childhood Education (ECE) certification Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number and percentage of programs adopting Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years – How Does Learning Happen Yes Yes Yes Yes
Accessible Affordable and Flexible Number and percentage of children who have access to licensed child care Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number and percentage of children receiving subsidies Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number and percentage of licensed child care programs that offer flexible hours Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of additional licensed child care spaces created Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of children receiving subsidy by family income No TBD Yes Yes
Inclusive Number of child care programs designed to serve French linguistic minority communities and Indigenous People off-reserve Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of children with additional support needs participating in child care programs No TBD Yes Yes
Number and proportion of children from low-income and middle class families participating in early learning and child care programs No TBD Yes Yes
Quality Early Learning High Quality Number and percentage of providers with Early Childhood Education (ECE) certification No TBD Yes Yes
Number and percentage of programs adopting Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years – How Does Learning Happen No TBD Yes Yes
Number of individuals supported through the Qualifications Upgrade Program per annum Yes Yes Yes Yes
Accessible Affordable and Flexible Number of new Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres (including full and part-time locations) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of child and family visits to early learning programs Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number and percentage of children who have access to early learning programs No TBD Yes Yes
Number and percentage of early learning programs that offer flexible hours No TBD Yes Yes
Inclusive Number of early learning programs designed to serve French linguistic minority communities and Indigenous People off-reserve No TBD Yes Yes
Innovative Service Delivery Indicators related to innovative service delivery are under development No TBD Yes Yes

F) Identifies specific targets for each indicator that will be reported on annually for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement

  • Below are the targets for the key indicators related to planned investments. Targets for the rest of indicators are under development, including leveraging existing data and developing new data collection needs.
  • Approximately, 11,200* children will be supported through additional fee subsidies or equivalent financial supports that support families more in need.
  • 100 new Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres locations could be created by the end of the 3-year agreement
  • 100,000 more child (0-6 years of age) and family visits to the Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres over the 3-year agreement
  • 175 full-time and/or part-time students would be supported annually to complete their Early Childhood Education diploma
  • Ontario will closely monitor service provision of child care and early learning programs for diverse populations, including but not limited to children from French and English linguistic minority communities, Indigenous people off-reserve, as well as in low- and middle- income neighborhoods

*Note: This number is subject to change based on municipal plan approvals

G) Identifies additional jurisdiction-specific indicators for tracking progress in relation to the objectives of the Agreement

As previously identified, Ontario is currently developing a new Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework. This includes a development of an outcomes and measurement strategy: including (1) an outcomes framework to ensure that the system is accountable to children and families first while providing good value for money; (2) a data management approach to better support evidence-based decision making; and (3) a research plan to help ensure that we’re using the latest findings to inform the implementation of our renewed framework. These evidence-based approaches will allow us to accurately monitor and evaluate how the system is responding to the needs of families as we move forward.

This work aligns with the objectives of the Multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework, and jurisdiction-specific indicators are already under development, including an innovative data collection strategy

  • This innovative data collection strategy will entail the province wide collection of child care and early years’ experience data-at Kindergarten registration, including standardized questions about children and families participation in child care and Ontario Early Years and Child Care centres.
  • This experience data will in turn be linked to a child’s Ontario Education Number (OEN). This will enable the ministry to explore the short-, medium- and long-term outcomes of children who participate in different patterns of early years learning before they reach kindergarten.
  • It will also be possible to link early years population level indicators such as the Early Development Instrument (EDI) as children’s outcomes. This will improve our understanding of the role of early years programs and services in children’s developmental health, well-being and student achievement. 

H) A description of consultation processes, the type of groups consulted and annual priorities related to stakeholder feedback

Ontario is committed to ongoing collaboration, dialogue and engagement with partners, families and stakeholders.

  • Ontario has established an ongoing Minister’s Early Years Advisory Committee, which has broad representation across the early years sector and includes various stakeholders such as municipalities, school boards, licensed child care operators, College of Early Childhood Educators, Indigenous partners, and private operators to name a few.
  • EDU also has only going discussions with Associations of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO),Toronto-Ontario Cooperation and Consultation Agreement (TOCCA), and Northern Ontario’s Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA).

In the fall and winter of 2016-17, the Ontario government held public consultations across the province to identify how to further enhance Ontario’s early years and child care system. The objective was to hear from parents, caregivers, ECEs, municipalities, school boards, employers, Indigenous partners and other key stakeholders about the challenges they face and how government might address them.

The Province engaged with families around four themes of affordability, access, quality and responsiveness, chosen based on extensive feedback from partners. The engagement process reached:

  • 6044 people who submitted feedback through the online survey.
  • 1190 individuals who attended targeted sessions, employer roundtables and interviews
  • 895 participants in public town hall sessions
  • 45 stakeholder organizations who submitted written feedback

The ministry hosted regional sessions in 20 communities across the province, in both English/French.

Additionally, the ministry conducted targeted engagement with early years francophone partners through existing advisory groups, parent focus groups, regional sessions and an employer table.

Feedback was received from Francophone partners across the province through in-person engagement and online. In addition to the materials for all sessions being bilingual, the regional session in Ottawa had simultaneous stakeholder sessions and town halls hosted in French.

EDU also invited indigenous partners to the various regional sessions, and were engaged through participation on the Minister’s Early Years Advisory Council. Regional sessions with a strong representation of Indigenous partners included Moosonee, Thunder Bay, Niagara, and Sudbury.

As part of the Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, we have also committed to expand access to culturally relevant child care and child and family programs off reserve and child and family programs on reserve. Through forums related our Journey Together commitments, we have been conducting more targeted engagement with Indigenous partners on the early years needs and priorities of Indigenous communities.

Through this process a number of chronic challenges within Ontario’s child care system were identified that fall into four broad areas:

  • Child care has become unaffordable for many of Ontario’s lower and middle class families.
  • Too many parents and caregivers struggle to access quality child care options.
  • It is often hard to recruit and retain qualified ECEs, and additional support is needed to improve the quality of care.
  • The current system is not responsive to families’ changing needs.

In addition to the public consultations held, EDU has engaged with CMSMs/DSSABs across the province during this transition period of implementation of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres.

EDU released the Provincial Planning Guidelines for Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres in July 2016, which guides CMSMs and DSSABs in the planning, management and delivery of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres programs and services. The guidelines were informed by a broad range of partners including CMSMs/DSSABs, the Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYC) Provincial Network, Parenting and Family Literacy Centre Managers, the Better Beginnings Better Futures Network, Family Supports Institute of Ontario, the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association, and others.

To inform the development of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres, CMSMs and DSSABs must engage in a local consultative and planning process with a broad range of community partners and parents/caregivers to inform the development of local Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres service locations, hours of operation and program offerings.

Appendix A – Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres

EDU currently funds four child and family programs, Ontario Early Years Centres, Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, Child Care Resource Centres and Better Beginnings, Better Futures.

There is currently a great deal of variability between programs in terms of programming, mandate, funding and geographic distribution.

These programs will be integrated into a cohesive, provincial system of services and supports to form Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres beginning January 1, 2018. Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres are intended to support all children, parents and caregivers in learning, growing and connecting – together.

Key Elements Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres
Provincial system An integrated system guided by a provincial framework resulting in consistent access to high quality core services everywhere in the province.
Services and Programs Common core services and multiple methods of service delivery that are responsive to local needs and inclusive of all families.
Service system planning A common, local governance structure with better coordination, planning and system integration resulting in reduced duplication and service gaps.
Funding Framework A transparent, evidenced-based funding framework that is responsive to changing demographics and distributed based on need.*
Outcomes and Measurement An integrated approach to tracking outcomes.*
Branding and Awareness Greater access to beneficial services as a result of targeted branding and public awareness activities, access to virtual resources and enhanced local outreach.*

*has not been publicly communicated

Services and Programs

EDU has identified a suite of mandatory core services for Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres.

In addition to the core services, there is the ability to collaborate with community partners to offer additional programs and services at OEYCFCs that align with the needs and priorities of individual communities.

Mandatory Core Services
Engaging Parents and Caregivers
  • Discussions and information sharing about child development, parenting, nutrition, play and inquiry-based learning, and other topics that support their role
  • Pre- and postnatal support programs to enhance parent and caregiver well-being and to support them in their role(s)
  • Targeted outreach activities directed at parents and caregivers that could benefit from OEYCFC programs and services but are not currently accessing services for a variety of reasons (e.g., newcomers to Ontario, teen parents, low-income families, etc.)
Supporting Early Learning and Development
  • Drop-in programs and others programs and services that build responsive adult-child relationships and encourage children’s exploration, play and inquiry, supported by How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years
  • CMSMs/DSSABs are required to ensure that qualified staff teams are responsible for delivering OEYCFC programs and services at every centre. Qualified staff teams must include Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) to deliver mandatory core services related to supporting early learning and development.
Making Connections for Families
  • Responding to a parent/caregiver concern about their child’s development through conversation and observation supported by validated tools and resources (e.g., developmental surveillance, NDDS). In some cases, this may result in supporting parents/caregivers to seek additional support from primary care or other regulated health professionals.
  • Information sharing about and facilitating connections with specialized community services (such as children’s rehabilitation services), coordinated service planning, public health, education, child care, and child welfare, as appropriate.
  • Information sharing about programs and services available for the whole family beyond the early years.
Customized Core Services
Examples may include:
  • Information sharing and sessions requested by parents/caregivers on specific topics of interest (e.g., breastfeeding, mental health, nutrition)
  • Information sharing and sessions in coordination with other community service providers (e.g. The federally funded Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program, settlement services, income tax clinics, child welfare agencies, etc)
  • Provision of resources (clothing, food, toy lending)

Service System Planning

In 2017 for the first time, funding for Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres will be provided to municipalities who effective January 1, 2018 will be the service system managers for these programs to reflect the integration of the early years and child care program in Ontario.

  • This funding will benefit municipalities as the approach in Ontario is to allow service system managers the opportunity to develop responsive programs that best meet the needs and priorities of their local communities.
  • Municipalities are currently undertaking needs assessments in their communities through consultations with partners and families including Indigenous, First Nations and Official Language partners and will make local decisions about the location of programs in the communities based on federal and provincial investments which will be allocated through an evidence-based funding formula which takes into account families more in need. Municipalities have been consulted on the funding formula.
  • In addition, municipalities will have the opportunity to plan and deliver Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres as part of integrated human services for children and families under their responsibility (e.g. social assistance, housing, libraries, child care and child and family programs, etc.).

Beginning January 1, 2018, CMSMs/DSSABs will assume responsibility for the service system management of Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres.

  • All existing funding agreements that the Ministry of Education (EDU) currently has with agencies and school boards providing child and family programs expire on December 31, 2017.

To support this transition, EDU released the Provincial Planning Guidelines for Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres in July 2016 to guide CMSMs/DSSABs in the planning, management and delivery of local programs and services. See attached document for further information – “Planning Guidelines for Service System Managers”.

  • Initial plans were originally due in May 2017; however, an extension has been granted until September 29, 2017.

Integration across the early years and child care system is a key priority for Ontario and a key rationale for the transformative approach of having municipalities take on the service system management role for Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres in addition to child care. Ontario encourages municipalities to consider co-location of programs that supports local need and will also work with partners to strengthen integration of early years and child care programs to better support families. Ontario is currently providing capital funding for child care and child and family programs to be co-located in schools.

CMSMs/DSSABs have identified that they are at a critical point in the planning process and require allocations to finalize plans and work with communities to prepare for implementation in January 1, 2018.

  • If allocation information is not shared by May 31, 2017, CMSMs/DSSABs will not have sufficient time to complete service system planning (identify service providers, locations and program offerings) and put into place operation mechanisms to begin flowing funding in January 2018 and implement plans to serve more children and families across Ontario.
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