Childcare facilities should have Carbon Monoxide detectors!

Thankfully a disaster was averted in Winnipeg the other day when brand new (only installed a week ago) Carbon Monoxide detectors went off early in the day at the Peek-A-Boo Infant Child Centre. See this news item by Carol Sanders and Adam Wazny regarding how a total of 54 children and 19 staff were saved from serious harm or even death. How? Because no one present would have known something was wrong until it was too late because the gas has no smell. The good news is that as of April 1st, 2011, the Province of Manitoba will require CO detectors, not only in home-based child care facilities, but everywhere there is a child care centre.

Now, just out of curiosity, I did a Google search to see if there were any requirements in Ontario for such detectors. Remember, Ontario now has an Early Learning Program (ELP), full-day kindergarten by another name, in hundreds of Ontario schools. As a result, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in the hallways of all schools, if not at least in the areas where there is pre-school and kindergarten aged children.  

Well, I couldn’t find any such legislation for Ontario. It doesn’t mean it is not there but it was not readily available.  So, let this latest near catastrophe be a wakeup call for the rest of Canada. Something that the Ontario PCs can consider. Will it cost money? Yes, but surely savings can be realized elsewhere in order to protect our most vulnerable.

Cancelling “key” to Early Learning Program another McGuinty flip-flop

As this ParentCentral article states, the McGuinty government has just flip-flopped on another major promise. Yet, I have to admit that even I was surprised to hear that the Ontario Liberals will be withdrawing the demand that Ontario public school boards run before and after school day care programs — meant to operate in conjunction with the full-day kindergarten, now called the Early Learning Program (ELP).  (H/T Catherine).

Remember, it was only a year ago that the ELP was announced with great fan fare — something I, and other CotM regulars, were sceptical about all along. First, parents already had day care arrangements. Second, existing private and non-profit day care operators were going to be put out of business. Third, it was going to cost billions of additional tax dollars, in the middle of a recession, for more teachers and Early Childhood Educators. And, fourth, and just as important as the other reasons, it became obvious very early on that many communities, particularly rural jurisdictions, simply didn’t want to change the services they already offered.

So, what brought on this policy in the first place? Well, we need look no further than the Charles Pascal report. As the province’s “Early Learning Advisor,” he recommended that schools become community hubs by providing early learning from birth right through to full-day schooling.  For Dr. Pascal’s specific guidelines, simply click on the “early learning summary of evidence” highlighted link.

Now, to be fair, its true that some public boards of education will simply continue to run their before and after school day care programs because they are already operated by for-profit or non-profit day care groups (like the WMCA).  However, the boards won’t be compelled to set up an entirely new infrastructure and the human resources that would go with it.

Now, the big question is:  Going into 2011 and the looming Ontario election, will this flip-flop help the Ontario Liberals? No, it won’t. In fact, my guess is that, given the majority of the comments at ParentCentral, it will actually do just the opposite. People are just plain fed up with the so-called “education” premier and a government that only knows how to tax, spend money and make changes, all the while assuming Ontarians are patient and have bottomless pockets of cash.

Well, given that this turn-around is going to disrupt thousands of lives, it’s probably the last straw that will almost certainly guarantee a change of government in October of 2011 — to the Ontario PC Party.

Oh, and one more thing. Given that Ontario PC Leader, Tim Hudak made it clear, that eliminating the before and after day care component of the ELP was exactly what his government would do, if elected, we can almost guarantee that the PC Party will not release an election platform any time soon. Because, to do so would simply ensure that the Ontario Liberals either criticize its policy ideas or steal them outright.