Stakeholders from across Waterloo Region’s child care and early learning sector gathered at Conestoga’s Doon campus on July 5 to meet with the Honourable Karina Gould, Member of Parliament for Burlington and Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and provide input on rollout plans for the new National Early Learning and Child Care plan.
Local MPs joining Minister Gould for the roundtable discussion were Valerie Bradford (Kitchener South-Hespeler), Hon. Bardish Chagger (Waterloo) and Tim Louis (Kitchener-Conestoga).
Describing the plan as “the biggest social and economic policy announced in Canada since Medicare,” Minister Gould explained that the new approach would not only address issues around the affordability of child care for families, but would also focus on ensuring quality, accessibility and inclusiveness, with spaces available for all children, regardless of language, background or ability.
The program’s overarching principles have been established by the federal government: provinces and territories will assume responsibility for managing the programs while operating within the federal framework.
Discussion topics included the importance of recruitment and retention measures to build the child care workforce: an additional 89,000 spaces will be required in Ontario alone over the next 5 years to meet program requirements.
Other topics included enhancing professional recognition of early childhood educators and promoting the value of their work, as well as the importance of investing in research to create new knowledge and creating a national community of practice for sharing innovative ideas and resources across the sector.
More information about Canada’s $30 billion investment in building a national early learning and child care system is available on the Government of Canada’s website.
Conestoga is a major contributor to the development of the child care and early learning workforce, currently delivering ECE education and training programs to approximately 800 students each year. Plans for additional growth to meet the burgeoning needs of the sector are currently in development. In addition, the college hosts a Professional Resource Centre to provide ongoing professional development opportunities and continuous learning for ECE practitioners working across the community.
Conestoga also operates a number of child care centres across Waterloo Region that provide quality early learning and care for children from infants through school age, and function as lab schools for post-secondary college programs. Combined, the centres support the child care needs of approximately 350 local families.
For more information, visit www.conestogac.on.ca/child-care-centres