City forced to find millions to fund child care spaces
Toronto’s mayor blasted Premier Doug Ford’s government Tuesday morning over cuts that jeopardize more than 3,000 new child care spaces, calling the province’s move “the wrong direction.”
Fifty-one new school-based daycares promised under the previous Liberal government will no longer have their operating costs covered by the province after they are built, according to a city staff report.
"Premier Ford keeps making these cuts in a quiet way, hoping nobody will notice, Councillor Mike Layton said.
"It's certainly not fair to the parents that will be relying on these spots."
The Ministry of Education has asked the city to confirm that it will support $35 million a year in operating funding for the centres, and has said the projects will not proceed unless that money is committed by the end of August.
The city has already passed its 2019 budget and staff say they are not able to commit to this funding “given the current fiscal environment.”
“Our posture will be to take this up with the provincial government and say ‘they’re going the wrong way,’” Toronto Mayor John Tory said.
“They are going the wrong way in terms of saying they are going to support less, by way of the planned increases put in place by the previous government, and addressing one of the really basic needs that people have in the city.”
"This province is making things worse," Councillor Joe Cressy added.
"For parents, for kids, for our city."
MPP Stan Cho told CP24 on Tuesday afternoon that the changes to child care funding are “absolutely not a cut.”
"Operational funding is continuing to flow from the Ministry of Education to the tune of $461 million for 2019/ 2020. And that's separate from the over $87 million that we are offering to The City of Toronto for 51 new child care service centres and schools throughout the Toronto area."
Cho also said the province will offer a tax credit for child care that will allow parents to pay for alternative care, such as nannies or babysitters.
The city is asking the province to back off the cuts, and if it refuses to fund the operating costs, at least consider the municipal budget cycle and push back the deadline for funding confirmation to Oct. 31 in order to give staff more time to assess and prioritize the 51 projects.