New rules threaten to keep kids under 4 out of Ontario summer camps

Adi Henya was looking forward to her three-year-old daughter attending day camp this summer.

But the Toronto mother-of-two said she's among thousands of parents worried that new child-care legislation will mean their children will miss out on camp this summer.

See Full Article

The new laws, which came into effect August 2015, no longer allow camps to accept children under the age of four unless they hold a daycare licence. The changes impact 43 day camps in Ontario.

"Everyone is scrambling," Henya told CTVNews.ca "I think everyone is concerned that they're going to have nothing to do with their children this summer."

Henya had already put a deposit on a day camp spot for her daughter when she found out about changes through a parenting website. She contacted the camp's director, who informed her that she was confident the camp would be able to secure a daycare licence in time.

But just to be safe, Henya also registered her daughter at a Toronto daycare that runs a camp program.

"Even if she was home, I could never compete with the fun and stimulation and socialization and all the amazing things that come along with a camp," she said.

The province introduced the Child Care and Early Years Act in 2014 to provide more safeguards for children in daycare and in camps.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Gary Wheeler said the new legislation responds to recommendations from a 2013 ombudsman report to restrict circumstances in which camps could operate without a licence.

"Younger children are a more vulnerable population and we want to do everything we can to keep all kids safe," Wheeler said in a statement. "Requiring a child care licence for camps in Ontario serving children under four years of age places an emphasis on standards and protections."

The Ontario Camps Association says it's in talks with provincial officials and hopes to reach a resolution before the camp season.

"It's thousands and thousands of kids that won't have anywhere to go this summer," OCA executive director Heather Heagle said. "There aren't enough daycares spots for the thousands of kids that would be affected by this."

Heagle said the new regulations would mean that some siblings won't be able to go to camp together.

Since children have to be four years old before starting camp, youngsters who are born later in the year and starting kindergarten in September wouldn't be eligible to attend camp.

"This is an enrichment program that provides so much scope for the child to learn and get prepared for junior kindergarten," Heagle said. "So we feel it's really an important experience for any child to follow their siblings and go to camp."

Camp legislation affecting thousands

The OCA, meanwhile, has launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of the changes.

Day camp this summer? New regulations affect kids under 4. Send a letter to @ONgov: https://t.co/G1SpGnr74a#onpolipic.twitter.com/LMMAQO5qvx

— OCACamps (@OCACamps) February 1, 2016

The Ministry of Education wouldn’t confirm if an exemption for day camps could be implemented in time for the start of summer day camp programs.

Wheeler said provincial officials engaged with the "recreation sector," including the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA, in developing the Child Care and Early Years Act.

He also noted that public hearings about the new legislation were held in the fall of 2014 and a public awareness campaign was later launched to inform parents of the new rules.

Wheeler said the ministry hosted a February 2015 meeting about the changes that included the OCA.

Kevin Gandy, owner and director of Adventure Valley, said the changes mean some of the campers who attended the Thornhill, Ont. day camp last year will not be able to attend this year.

He some parents who are sending two of their kids to camp will now have to make alternate arrangements for the third.

"It's not ideal," he said.

Gandy looked into obtaining a daycare licence, but he said it would be difficult to find an Early Childhood Educator with at least two years to work with the camp.

"It's hard to find someone who's going to want a two-month job who has those qualifications," he said.

Gandy said the Adventure Valley will run one-hour technical programs, for a maximum of two hours, for children under four this summer. But he noted that the children registered in these programs won't be bussed to and from the camp or receive a lunch.

"It's not really going to accommodate a big chunk of our families who rely on full day (care) or bus transportation," he said. "I'm guessing you have about 10,000 kids in Ontario who would have gone to camp and now can't."

Meanwhile, Henya said she understand the reasoning behind the new rules, but she's hoping that some sort of middle ground can be reached so her daughter can "make the most" of her summer.

"We have such a short summer, and I want her to do something really fun and be outside and be with friends."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Scrap 'dangerous' hospital policy allowing workers with COVID-19 back on the job, unions tell Ontario

    Canada News CBC News
    Unions are calling for the Ontario government to reverse a pandemic policy that allows hospital workers to return to work while infected with COVID-19 if a facility's staffing situation becomes dire. "We believe that this whole concept is a dangerous threat to the well-being of hospital patients and to those hospital staff who are healthy," Michael Hurley with the Canadian Union of Public Employees said at a news conference on Thursday. Source
  • 'My absolute dream job': Unique program brings physicians to housebound seniors

    Canada News CBC News
    An animation gif shows physicians Eugenie Phan and Christa Sinclair Mills, and occupational therapist Leslie Coulter, visiting patients of House Calls in Toronto on Jan. 21. (Evan Mitsui/CBC, Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images) Patients of family physician Eugenie Phan don't go to her office. Source
  • Star releasing huge bursts of energy may be 1st of its kind ever discovered

    World News CBC News
    Scientists have detected what appears to be an incredibly dense star behaving unlike anything else ever seen — and suspect it might be a type of exotic astrophysical object whose existence has until now been only hypothesized. Source
  • Children who are severely immunocompromised should get 3rd dose of COVID vaccine, NACI says

    Canada News CBC News
    Children age five to 11 who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should get a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said on Friday. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) issued the updated recommendation on Tuesday, but Tam highlighted it in a COVID-19 briefing on Friday. Source
  • Ontario reports 68 more COVID-19 deaths as hospitalizations drop to 3,535

    Canada News CTV News
    Ontario health officials reported 68 additional deaths related to COVID-19 while hospitalizations dropped again on Friday. Of the deaths logged on Friday, 67 took place over the past 13 days – 36 of which occurred this week – according to the spokesperson for Ontario’s Health Minister. Source
  • B.C. spending scandal: More details unveiled on controversial purchase of wood splitter

    Canada News CTV News
    A surprise disclosure temporarily delayed proceedings at the B.C. Supreme Court trial of the former clerk of the legislature Thursday, while a key witness shed light on the controversial purchase of a wood splitter “for emergencies” that was stored at the clerk's home. Source
  • 'In a very dangerous place': Why one expert says the Russia-Ukraine crisis won't be a traditional war

    World News CTV News
    As western governments and intelligence services attempt to figure out what comes next amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, whatever escalation materializes is unlikely to be a traditional war, says one Canadian expert. While diplomatic channels are flowing back and forth to prevent what the U.S. Source
  • More than 300 charges laid in investigation into auto theft ring, $11.1M worth of cars recovered

    Canada News CTV News
    Two dozen people are facing more than 300 charges combined in connection with an investigation into what police are calling a “prolific auto theft ring” in the Greater Toronto Area. According to Peel police, the investigation—dubbed “Project High 5”—spanned multiple jurisdictions over a six-month period. Source
  • NYC gives final salute to slain NYPD officer

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Police arrived by the thousands in their finest dress blues on Friday, as a light snow drifted under an overcast sky, to honour a fallen brother -- during the first of two funerals that again brought sorrow to the New York Police Department. Source
  • Prince Andrew gives up membership of prestigious golf club

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Prince Andrew has given up his honorary membership of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, one of the world's most prestigious golf clubs, as he fights allegations of sexual abuse that have forced him to retreat from public life. Source