Province backtracking on controversial new daycare regulations
Published Wednesday, April 13, 2016 3:59PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, April 13, 2016 5:34PM EDT
Children put up their hands for ice cream at a daycare centre in Montreal on Friday, August 18, 2006. (Ian Barrett / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
TORONTO -- Ontario's education ministry has backed off from a controversial daycare proposal as well as a pause it had put on admissions to schools for deaf, blind and severely learning disabled students.
Education Minister Liz Sandals said Wednesday that the government received "extensive" feedback on proposed new daycare regulations and they will not be implemented as posted.
The ministry will take another look, after there were concerns raised about new child-care age brackets and staff-to-child ratios, Sandals said.
"It's clear there's a number of concerns and there's more work to do," she said.
Sandals also announced Wednesday that the government is resuming the 2016-17 admissions process for schools for students with severe learning disabilities as well as those for deaf and blind students.
The schools, called provincial and demonstration schools, had stopped accepting admissions while the Liberal government consulted on their future, which parents and families took as a sign they would be closed.
Sandals said the admissions process will now resume for one school year, but no final decisions have been made about the schools.
"I'm still concluding meetings, we're still analyzing all the input from the consultations, so in terms of what are the results of the consultation process, we have not completed that yet," she said. "No decisions have been made."
Her announcement came a day before parents, staff and students of affected schools were set to rally at the Ontario legislature.
NDP critic Lisa Gretzky praised the efforts of school supporters, who have been vocally lobbying for them to stay open, but said what they really need is a hard commitment from the government.
"I think that the minister not committing to keeping provincial and demonstration schools open beyond 2016-17 is a concern," she said.
Progressive Conservative Todd Smith, who has two of the schools in his eastern Ontario riding, said the schools provide a much-needed service for their students.
"These are some of our most vulnerable kids and these are programs that work," he said. "In the face of all of these families that are going to be here at Queen's Park tomorrow for the protest (the minister) comes out at the 11th hour with this kind of announcement, it just seems like a desperate move on behalf of a desperate government."