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Bountrogianni Expands Children's Services
May 11, 2005 permalink
Marie Bountrogianni has found another $270 million to use to further strengthen the hand of social service agencies at the expense of families. Here are her remarks to the provincial legislature yesterday:
Hon. Marie Bountrogianni (Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration): I'm pleased to rise in the House today to inform members of the historic commitment we are making in partnership with the federal government to help Ontario children and families.
I was honoured to host Prime Minister Martin and Social Development Minister Ken Dryden on Friday at the St. Marguerite d'Youville Children's Centre in Hamilton. Together, we signed an unprecedented agreement in principle for the early learning and care of Ontario's children, a commitment founded on the principles of quality, universal inclusiveness, accessibility and development. These four principles reflect values that are shared not only with the federal government but with every provincial and territorial government from coast to coast, and they are shared by child care workers and advocates, children's health professionals and parents.
In Ontario, these principles are the cornerstones of our Best Start plan. At its core, Best Start is a massive expansion of child care and early learning. That means making more quality, regulated child care spaces available to more families and providing more subsidies so that more families can access those spaces. But it's much more than that. Best Start also includes vital services that help children develop and arrive at school ready to learn: infant screening, hearing programs, speech and language therapy and many other services that support early childhood development. All of these services, including child care, will be available in community hubs in schools so it's easy for parents to take advantage of them.
In the past year, we've already created 4,000 new subsidized spaces and we're moving forward aggressively to provide more quality child care spaces for more Ontario families. Quality, affordable early learning and child care helps prepare our young people to arrive at school ready to learn, thrive and excel.
We are pleased that the federal government is providing Ontario with approximately $270 million this year to help build a national early learning and care program. That is in addition to the approximately $570 million that is already provided for child care in Ontario. These are important investments: investments that pay dividends for decades as children grow into productive contributors to Ontario's economy; investments in families whose parents can work outside the home knowing their children are in a quality child care program.
Together, we are creating a seamless system of services for young families and, together, we will see the results: more quality, affordable child care, more parents able to balance the demands of work and family, and more children getting the best possible start in life.
As I looked around that child care centre on Friday, I saw a lot of happy people who have been working on behalf of children for decades. We committed to them that we would work with our partners to deliver a quality, affordable child care program, and that's what we're doing. But the most important commitment is to the thousands of children in Ontario. To them, we are providing a lifelong gift of learning and care. They deserve nothing less.
Source: Ontario Hansard