Child care quality will decrease with new Ontario proposal, experts say

Mar 8, 2016 | News

Infants playing in a child care centre.

Infants playing in a child care centre. Flickr/U.S. Army

Cheyenne Lynch

Proposed changes by Ontario’s education ministry to Toronto’s childcare centers should not go ahead, child care experts told Humber News on Tuesday.

The province is proposing to change the child-to-staff ratio for toddler care to three staff per every ten children as well as reducing the age infants move to the toddler room to 12 months.

But Ashley Zambrano, Early Childhood Education (ECE) field supervisor at Humber College, says the new proposed number won’t meet the children’s needs.

“As we currently have a ratio of one to three infant rooms and one to five in toddler rooms, this number is ideal,” she told Humber News.

If funds are not provided to help assist the purposed number of children, she does not believe that keeping the current staff-to-child ratio will be realistic financially, she said.

According to Zambrano, placing infants and toddlers together will cause some frustration with the children themselves.

Twelve-month-olds need a safe environment to roll, crawl and explore whereas toddlers need space to engage, learn and communicate with their peers, she said.

“They have different activity/explorational needs, different feeding needs. They need different space to learn their abilities,” said Zambrano.

Elena Merenda, ECE Instructor at Humber College, said that this new proposed ratio means that the staff’s time, affection, love and support will be stretched, impacting the children’s development.

“This doesn’t mean that the educator can’t have positive interactions with the children, but it does mean those interactions for each individual child are few and far between,” said Merenda.

There is a lot of turnover in the childcare field because the workers are already underpaid, overworked and burned out, she added.

“We have to wonder, how will this proposed ratio effect educator mental health and what impacts could this have on the children?” said Merenda.

Education Minister Liz Sandals defended the proposed changes, saying they will dramatically increase the number of daycare spots in licensed providers for one-year-olds, the Globe and Mail reported.