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Ford policies threaten children

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Conservatives continue to hack away at evidence-based policies that properly serve kids
Author: 
Dickinson, Pat
Publication Date: 
13 Mar 2019
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EXCERPTS

Governments traditionally work to support policies that ensure children's safety and well-being.

Hamilton has a long history of this.

We were one of the first Canadian cities to establish public school kindergarten in the 1880s, and one of the first cities in Ontario to provide junior kindergarten in the 1950s.

This city has also been a leader in supporting child care as a shared responsibility between local and provincial government.

During the past few decades in Ontario, governments based their children's policies on solid evidence and public consultation.

This research demonstrated that investments in children's well-being, particularly in the years from prenatal to five, are not only humane but also in the best interests of our future: Socially, environmentally, and economically.

The Royal Commission on Learning (2005); Mustard, McCain, McCuaig, Shanker: Early Years Studies, 1, 2, 3 (1999, 2007, 2011); and Pascal: With our Best Future in Mind (2009) all advocated for substantial public funding for regulated quality early years education and care.

As a result, policies and practices supporting children's safety and well-being have been put in place by all three political parties.

These policies include:

•Enhanced safety regulations and ensuring more quality, affordable, accessible, and flexible child care.

•Providing full-day kindergarten and before and after child care in neighbourhood public schools.

•Establishing Ontario Early Years Centres in every riding.

•Legislating adult-child ratios in all settings that ensure adequate supervision and safety for the children. 

•Providing essential therapy and support for our most vulnerable children.

Never, until the current party took office in Ontario, has a government blatantly removed evidence-based practices that support children's safety and well-being.

The Doug Ford government began by terminating the role and office of the Child Advocate whose responsibility it is to safeguard children's lives in this province.

They have begun to systematically dismantle the many policies and practices that have been implemented by all three political parties over the past decades.

Each week, it seems, we hear of one or more safety regulation being suggested to be removed or relaxed (for example, numbers of very young children per adult in home child care; caps on class sizes in kindergarten and primary grades) or an essential service that is being reduced or removed (for example, reduction in services for children with autism); or removing essential sex-education curriculum that was implemented after extensive consultation and research demonstrated that this would save children's lives.

Following in Hamilton's long tradition of support for quality services for children, Hamilton City Council approved a staff report on Feb. 20 that expressed concern "regarding the quality, health and safety, supervision and overall well-being of children in a home care setting " if proposed changes in Bill 66 to increase the number of children under one adult's supervision should proceed.

It expressed concern that "in an emergency, it may be difficult for the one adult to safely evacuate all children" and "feels strongly that increased access cannot be achieved at the expense of children's safety and quality of care."

This dangerous dismantling of children's rights and freedoms can only be explained by ignorance about the negative impact these changes would have on children's safety and well-being, not to mention long term cost savings and societal gains.

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Entered Date: 
10 Apr 2019
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