With the issue of affordable child raising concerns across Ontario, one member of a student group in Scarborough refuses to allow this problem to linger.
Elizabeth Comrie is one of eight students at Centennial College’s Ashtonbee campus who formed a group tasked to target something they wanted to change as part of their Power and Social Movement class. The group has started a Change For All campaign, fighting for affordable and spacious daycare facilities. They have petitioned residents and child-care workers in an effort to convince government officials to amend rules and regulations for child care and crack down on unlicensed facilities that create unsafe spaces for young people.
According to Comrie, her group is fed up with the quality of these centres.
“The facilities are not acceptable,” she said. “There’s not enough daycare centres close to low-income neighbourhoods and the space is limited for the ones that are in the area because they are either in the bottom of a building or a plaza.”
In order to qualify for fully subsidized child care in Ontario, a family must make less than $20,000 in yearly income. Though there are no income ceilings, one must be working full-time for at least 40 hours weekly to be eligible.
With many local centres charging $400 monthly for daycare per child, Comrie believes the financial headaches of daycare lead to bigger problems.
“Charging $400 a head for a child is leading us into a lot of huger issues; poverty and lack of parental support within homes because they’re left with no choices,” she said. “That’s why a lot of kids now are getting into trouble and are delinquent, because they don’t have guidance.”
Pauline Camuti-Cull was involved in child-care services for 25 years. Now an adviser and early childhood educator at Centennial College’s Progress campus, Camuti-Cull believes the issue of infant/toddler care must be addressed, given that parents are made to pay $1,000 a month or more.
She also says parents expressed concerns regarding having children ready for school.
“If you provide a good program that really is focused on where the child is that that’s developmentally appropriate, you’re going to help children be ready for school,” she said.
Camuti-Cull thinks improvements can be made to the system so children are afforded quality time with teachers and greater learning opportunities, primarily through full-time daycare.
“I think that the shift to full-day learning, if it’s done well, is a positive shift in the field,” she said “It’s a good way to allow families access to care in a way that can be more affordable and is seamless.”
As for Comrie, she hopes changes will be implemented so that daycare expenses are tied to income.
“It should be calculated at a reasonable amount not set at a rate where it’s going to cause families to go into poverty,” she said.