Research shows that early years and child care programs improve children’s readiness for school and lifelong success. High quality early years and child care programs also support children’s social, emotional and brain development.

That’s why we have committed to helping 100,000 more children aged 0-4 access quality licensed child care over the next five years, starting in 2017. Our goal is to support people in their everyday lives by promoting early learning and development, and helping more families find quality, affordable care.

We engaged people across Ontario about how we can meet our expansion goals and the needs of parents, educators and care providers.

  • 390,000
    licensed child care spaces in Ontario
  • 40%
    of children 0-4 years old will have access to licensed care by 2021

About the consultation

To help guide the consultation, we’ve developed a discussion paper, Building a Better Future: A Discussion Paper for Transforming Early Years and Child Care in Ontario. The paper outlines the current early years and child care system and provides an overview on the proposed approach.

The paper highlights the four key themes to guide our approach to early years and child care across the province:

  1. Access to licensed child care and early years programs
  2. Responsiveness to the needs of families and children through early years programs and child care in schools, communities, workplaces and homes.
  3. Affordability for families that need support
  4. Quality programs that contribute to healthy child development, measured through established province-wide outcomes

What we heard

We received feedback through an online survey, meetings and town hall sessions.

  • 6,044 people submitted feedback through our online survey
  • 1,190 people attended targeted sessions, employer roundtables and interviews
  • 895 people participated in public town hall sessions
  • 45 stakeholder organizations submitted written feedback

In-person sessions

We hosted conversations with a variety of people across Ontario, including:

  • 15 engagement sessions with people in the sector, including child care providers and educators, Francophone and Indigenous partners
  • 25 one-on-one interviews with employers, followed by a roundtable discussion
  • 20 engagement sessions with parents, caregivers, early years and child care providers, employers, municipalities, school boards, experts and members of the public


We visited the following locations across the province:

  • Thunder Bay
  • Moosonee
  • Moose Factory
  • Toronto
  • Brampton
  • Milton
  • Peterborough
  • Scarborough
  • Kitchener/Waterloo
  • Ottawa
  • Kingston
  • London
  • Windsor
  • Wellington
  • York South-Weston
  • Niagara
  • Grey-Bruce
  • Durham
  • Sudbury
  • York


Some common themes emerged through our consultation:

On affordability

  • The high cost of child care and a need for fee subsidies can be barriers to accessing licensed child care.
  • While needs vary across regions, issues related to the affordability of licensed child care are consistent, with urban centres experiencing the highest child care costs in Canada.
  • There is a desire for the province to examine how child care is delivered in other jurisdictions and, where possible, to find ways to adapt best practices.

On access

  • Families face challenges accessing licensed child care due to high cost and lack of space, and these challenges are more pronounced when looking for infant and toddler spaces.
  • Parents are not always aware of all early years and child care programs available in their community (e.g., licensed home-based or centre-based child care, child and family programs).
  • Parents need easier access to early years and child care information, such as where spaces are available.
  • In Indigenous communities, child care should be part of a holistic approach to supporting children and families.

On quality

  • Participants identified the need for consistency in how quality is defined, as well as for provincial measures for assessing quality.
  • There is a need to better support Ontario’s valued early childhood educators through professional development, wage enhancements and other workplace opportunities.
  • Participants agreed that high-quality early years and child care programs support children’s learning, development and well-being, and improve chances for success in school and in life.

On responsiveness

  • Participants suggested that programs need to have more flexible hours (including weekend and evening care) to better support parents who work non-traditional hours.
  • Locations of child care and early years programs were identified as barriers, along with a lack of transportation options for families in rural communities.
  • The need to increase supports for children with special needs was identified.
  • There is a desire for more culturally responsive early years options, especially for Francophone, Indigenous and multi-ethnic programming.