2022 Pre-Buget Submission

Standing Committee for Finance & Economic Affairs

Chair: Ernie Hardeman, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (Oxford)

c/o Procedural Services Branch
99 Wellesley Street West
Room 1405, Whitney Block
Toronto, ON M7A 1A2

Submitted by:
Lori Prospero, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
RisingOaks Early Learning Ontario


January 26, 2022


Chair Hardeman:

I am pleased to submit this letter on behalf of RisingOaks Early Learning Ontario as part of your Pre-Budget Consultations. At RisingOaks Early Learning, we have a 40-year history of providing high quality early learning and care. We currently operate 13 licensed child care centres/programs in the Waterloo Region. We have a licensed capacity of over 1,400 spaces. At RisingOaks we build the foundation for learning, at the most pivotal time of a child's growth and development. Preparing them at this stage for a lifetime of learning is the key to their future.

The early learning and child care (ELCC) sector is in crisis - exacerbated by COVID-19. The sector is at its breaking point with staffing vacancies taking months to fill and staff off due to COVID-19. The band-aid solution is temporary program closures, longer waiting lists and mixing cohorts leading to greater spread of COVID-19. It doesn't have to be this way.

We support an early learning and child care system that:

  • responds to a child's human right to high quality early learning programs based on Ontario's pedagogy, How Does Learning Happen,
  • is accessible and affordable for Ontario families,
  • addresses the current workforce crisis, with a focus on retention and recruitment in the ELCC workforce through professional pay and decent working conditions.
  • ensure sustainable growth of child care spaces within a public and non-profit system.

In order to protect the progress made against COVID-19 and to make Ontario the best place to live, build a career, family and a future, we implore the Ontario government to include the following in its 2022 Budget:

  1. A Canada-Ontario $10 a day Child Care Agreement that provides operational funding to child care operators to:
    1. reduce parent fees by 50% by June 30, 2022
    2. ensure that any future plans to reduce fees to an average of $10 a day includes ongoing support to reduce childhood poverty for those who pay less than $10 a day in the current system.
    3. Increase core operating funding by $5/hour per FTE with a condition that all ECE base salaries are increased by $5/hour. Reallocate the existing wage enhancement grant for this purpose.

  2. Address the Workforce Crisis in Child Care
    1. Increase financial support to licensed child care programs to ensure recruitment and retention of qualified staff
    2. the provision of daily, collaborative, on-site paid planning time for centre-based programs and a community-driven model to connect and support licensed home child care providers;

  3. Provide new funding for COVID-19 supports in the child care sector to:
    1. Cover loss of revenue from parent fees when families are isolating due to COVID-19.
    2. Provide an ongoing supply of rapid antigen tests for symptomatic testing that does not require staff to break 5-packs down into smaller bundles
    3. Reinstate eligibility for publicly-funded PCR tests to include children, families, Early Childhood Educators, child care providers and staff;
    4. Recommence COVID-19 case reporting in the child care sector;
    5. Provide 10 permanent paid sick days to support child care workers and families with mandatory isolation periods;

  4. Provide capital funding to adequately expand child care spaces, with funding commitments between the Ontario government, school board and child care operator for first-time furniture and equipment.

  5. To prohibit the school boards from charging rent to child care operators

  6. To reduce administrative burden in child care - fueled by direct input from child care operators.

The 2022 Budget is an opportunity for the Ontario government to declare that a high-quality, affordable and well-funded child care system will set the foundation for all other policy initiatives. Afterall, everyone depends on someone who depends on child care.


Lori Prospero, CAE 
Chief Executive Officer