Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow and federal cabinet minister Jenna Sudds visit GBC for early childhood education conference

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Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow and Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jenna Sudds joined early childhood education (ECE) leaders for the annual Summer Institute on Early Years Development at Waterfront Campus. 

The April 26 event marked the event’s 20th anniversary and the longstanding partnership between George Brown College and the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). 

George Brown President Dr. Gervan Fearon opened the conference with remarks welcoming guests and highlighting the college’s efforts in shaping the ECE workforce for Canada’s future — the theme for the 2024 Summer Institute. 

“At George Brown College, we help to inform and shape the early years workforce by offering high-quality education that is grounded in evidence-based research and practice,” he said. “The workforce is fundamental to creating high quality early learning environments for young children. It is also essential for parents’ labour force participation.” 

“As an institution committed to early childhood, we are proud of the staff who support children and their families at our lab schools. We also recognize these staff have the protection of labour rights, have access to excellent benefits, and a variety of professional learning opportunities. This is not the same for all those in the workforce across our country. As a country, we must continue to strive to do better!” 

Mayor Chow also welcomed conference participants and spoke about the importance of improving working conditions of early childhood educators. For more than two decades, she has been a tireless advocate for childcare and for children in the city, including in her role as Toronto’s first Children and Youth Advocate. 
Minister Sudds delivered an update on the progress of the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care System and its goal to provide $10-a-day care for children across the country. In 2022, George Brown’s network of 14 child care lab schools located across Toronto opted into the plan. 

Leaders in the field, including George Brown’s Director of the School of Early Childhood, Bernice Cipparone, delivered findings on the impact of Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care agreements and workforce development. 

Dr. Emis Akbari and Dr. Shelly Mehta, authors of the Early Childhood Education Report, presented a summary of the report, which measures provincial/territorial early years services in Canada against a 15-point score.  

"George Brown College is proud to be a partner in this event, which provides space for vital conversations about developments in the early childhood education field," said Patricia Chorney Rubin, Dean of the Centre for Community Services and Early Childhood and the Centre for Health Sciences. "The sector is facing significant challenges and it's events like this that bring together leaders in the field to forge positive ways forward.”