Minister defends new bill to boost child-care spaces
TORONTO — Loosening rules to increase the number of young children allowed in daycares will create more affordable child-care spaces, Ontario’s economic development minister said Friday, dismissing concerns that reforms contained in new legislation could put kids at risk.
Todd Smith said the proposed changes in a bill introduced by the Progressive Conservatives this week will give parents more options and help them get back into the workforce faster.
The bill, if passed, will allow up to three children under the age of two in an in-home daycare. Currently only two young children are allowed in such settings.
The changes would also allow two child-care providers to look after six infants at a time, an increase from four infants currently allowed. They would also mean providers no longer have to count their own children toward the total number of kids in their care after their child turns four.
In 2014, following several daycare deaths, the previous Liberal government introduced changes that capped the number of children in daycare settings. Smith said that hurt access to care.
“I think there was a knee-jerk decision that was made a number of years ago to reduce the number of spaces,” he said. “It wasn’t the right decision for the people of Ontario.”
The new legislation, he said, would be an improvement for all involved.
Critics, however, said they were concerned changing the daycare ratios would put younger children who need greater levels of supervision at risk.