Canada: Ontario’s 2010 Early Learning Program: Bracing for the Fallout

Last Updated: June 17 2010

When was the last time your Board was involved in the legal "ins and outs" of a hotly contested certification drive before the Ontario Labour Relations Board? Ontario's newly announced Early Learning Program could well provide you with an opportunity in the coming year. In this School Board Update, we discuss the ramifications and new challenges that face school boards throughout the province in light of this announcement.


Late last year, the Ministry of Education announced the first phase of Ontario's plan for a province-wide "Early Learning Program", which involves the implementation of full-day early learning for four- and five-year-olds. Phase One is intended to provide early learning for up to 35,000 four- and five-year-olds – 15 percent of the Junior and Senior Kindergarten population – during the 2010-2011 school year. The Ministry's ultimate goal is to provide access to full-day early learning in all schools by the 2015-2016 school year.

Because the Early Learning Program is a school-based initiative, school boards will have a lead role in achieving the province's vision for early learning, and will be required to consult with their school communities and other partners.


The Early Learning Program is based on two components:

  1. A core component that will be offered each school day during the hours of the instructional program (for example, from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm). In each classroom, a team of one teacher and one early childhood educator ("ECE") registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators will work side by side to deliver the program.
  2. An extended day component that will be available before and after school (for example, from 7:00 to 9:00 am and 3:30 to 6:00 pm). This component will be led by ECEs and funded through parent fees set on a cost-recovery basis, with subsidies available for families who need help with the cost.

The Ministry has also established a class size standard for the Early Learning Program of an average of 26 students on a board-wide basis, which provides for a child-adult ratio of 13:1.

As a first step, school boards were required to prepare preliminary plans involving the selection of the schools that would offer full-day learning for the 2010-11 school year. These plans will be reviewed by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Children and Youth Services by January 15, 2010.


In implementing Phase One, boards will need to respond to a number of financial, administrative and logistical challenges. Some of the most significant challenges involve the following human resources and labour relations issues:

Representation Rights Concerning the ECEs. In light of the absence of any legislative direction as to appropriate bargaining units for ECEs, there may be intense competition among existing (and possibly new) unions and teacher federations for representation rights. Boards will therefore need to familiarize themselves with the process for (and their rights during) applications for certification under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 ("LRA"). In addition, in light of the positions that some trade unions have already taken, it will also be necessary to review carefully the recognition provisions of existing collective agreements to determine if the new positions already fall within an existing bargaining unit (e.g. professional) and to understand the possible advantages and pitfalls associated with the voluntary recognition process.

Pay Equity Considerations. In light of the number of new employees arriving at school boards and the funding model for ECE wages introduced by the Ministry (which has already raised pay equity concerns), any negotiations that follow the determination of representation rights could create significant challenges for school boards.

Operational Issues Relating to the Extended Day. The Ministry's direction concerning the extended day component will require boards to reconsider their existing arrangements for a number of employee groups, ranging from principals to caretakers and administrative staff. As boards work to implement new schedules and establish new responsibilities, they will have to review their contractual and collective agreement obligations, as well as the hours of work requirements of the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Instructional Issues. The Ministry has indicated that it expects teachers and ECEs to work side by side in delivering the classroom component. However, the teachers' federations have already made clear statements concerning the scope of their members' authority in the classroom. Each board's demarcation of the responsibilities of each employee may therefore require a review of the Education Act, arbitral jurisprudence concerning teachers' duties and an understanding of the process for jurisdictional disputes under the LRA. In addition, the Ministry's class size standard for the Early Learning Program may in some cases conflict with collective agreement obligations.

The Arrival of the ECEs, a Large and Distinct Complement of New Employees. As noted above, participating ECEs must be registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators and will be subject to regulation by that body in the same way that other professionals (e.g. teachers, social workers, psychologists, physiotherapists, etc.,) are governed by their Colleges. Boards will therefore need to familiarize themselves with the requirements for membership in the College, as well as the professional standards imposed on ECEs by the Early Childhood Educators Act.

In addition to these employment-related issues, boards may need to consider the impact of the Human Rights Code and the Education Act on pupils' access to the limited number of schools offering the Early Learning Program during its early phases, and related issues concerning access to special education.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.