Toronto's NDP MPPs have written to the Minister of Education to urgently request immediate safety measures to protect Ontario’s children in child care centres, as well as the child care workers who care for them.
January 5, 2022
Hon. Stephen Lecce, MPP Minister of Education
5th Flr, 438 University Ave. Toronto, ON M7A 2A5
Via e-mail (See the full letter)
Dear Minister Lecce,
We are writing to you to urgently request that you enact immediate safety measures to protect Ontario’s children in child care centres, as well as the child care workers who care for them.
As you know, most children in child care are too young to be vaccinated, and many are too young to wear masks, or wear masks consistently. As such, your government has a duty to take rapid action to protect them as much as possible. Early years and child care workers have no choice but to work closely with these unvaccinated and often unmasked children, making their work particularly hazardous.
The pandemic has proven that child care is foundational to the success of our society and economy. Parents cannot participate in the workforce without quality child care. Yet child care has had to operate during the pandemic without adequate support, resources or assistance from this government. Without immediate action, children and child care workers will get sick, disrupting the lives, health and safety of people across this province.
There is already a staffing crisis in the child care sector, due first to low wages and poor working conditions, and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to many workers getting sick. Due to these staffing shortages, many essential workers cannot access emergency child care because there simply are not enough child care workers available. We cannot delay the protection and support of this sector any longer.
We urge you to immediately provide:
A ramp-up of PCR COVID testing, and allow children and child care workers to get COVID tests
Access to free rapid tests for early years and child care workers, and children in child care
Paid sick days and family care days
High-quality, free PPE for all frontline workers, including N95s
Offer in-school vaccine clinics, open to families in child care in the catchment
Given how vital child care is to our province’s well-being and economy, we also urge you to sign the federal child care deal immediately. This is a vital step towards the recruitment and retention of early years and child care workers, and the provision of better wages and working conditions. Your government must stabilize and strengthen the child care sector by signing the deal to ensure Ontario families can access safe, affordable child care spaces during this pandemic and beyond.
Ontario cannot wait any longer to make child care safe. This is the right thing to do, and the time is now. We look forward to your reply.
MPP, Parkdale—High Park
MPP, Beaches—East York
MPP, Scarborough— Southwest
MPP, York—South Weston
Dr. Jill Andrew, PhD
MPP, Toronto-St. Paul’s
MPP, Humber River—Black Creek
MPP, Toronto Centre
MPP, Spadina—Fort York