City to offer 300 childcare subsidies to help reduce wait list backlog, mayor says
Chris Fox, CTV Toronto
Published Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:53AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 17, 2017 6:09PM EST
The city will offer 300 additional childcare subsidies in 2017 but some parents could be left footing the bill for the new funding.
The proposed budget for 2017 calls for an investment of $3 million in 300 new subsidies, bringing the total number of city-financed subsidies for childcare to 26,359.
The funding, however, will come at the expense of an operating grant that subsidized the costs of 350 child-care centres in public schools for the past 20 years.
Childcare advocates have previously warned that the elimination of the grant could boost the costs of childcare by as much as $350 per year, per child.
On Tuesday, Mayor Tory confirmed that the grant is effectively being "repurposed" into new subsidies and called on other levels of government to come to the table.
“The fact remains: property taxpayers cannot and should not be asked to do this alone,” Mayor Tory told reporters on Tuesday. “It is fine, it is doable and it something we are proud of to have these 300 entirely city-financed childcare subsidies brought forward as part of our budget but eliminating the backlog and providing childcare for those who need it is going to have to be a shared responsibility going forward. We need federal and provincial governments to contribute more towards childcare subsidies."
Subsidy is based on income
City of Toronto childcare subsidies are available to households where each parent eithers works or is attending school.
The amount of subsidy that a household can qualify for depends on income.
In a household that earns $72,830 annually, which is the median income in Toronto, the subsidy would reduce the childcare costs for one toddler to $45.40 a day. That’s about half the average cost of childcare for a toddler ($95.16 a day).
The 2016 budget only contained 200 new childcare subsidies, 75 of which were deferred until 2017. Those 75 subsidies are included in the total for this coming year, meaning the actual number of new subsidies is 225.
There are currently 17,500-family on the waiting list for childcare subsidies.
“Far too many Toronto families are in a position where the cost of childcare becomes unaffordable because it consumes too big a share of what are often modest incomes,” Tory said. “Affordable accessible childcare allows parents to go to work and to continue to provide for their families while their children are well cared for.”
The new childcare subsidies are being funded, in part, with the savings from ending the 20-year-old agreement that subsidizes the costs of operating 350 child-care centres in public schools.
The end of occupancy grants for schools that house childcare centres would go into effect in July and would save the city $1.13 million in 2017 and $2.26 million in 2018.
“To take the funding that subsidizes full fee parents who are already struggling to pay for childcare is just the wrong approach,” Coun. Janet Davis told CP24 on Tuesday. “We need new money for new spaces.”
Davis said that the estimated increased cost to parents from eliminating the operation subsidy for daycares in schools is about three times the cost of the proposed property tax hike of two per cent and will be a “significant” challenge for already overburdened families.
Tory, however, told reporters on Tuesday that he is hopeful that the province will eventually assume responsibility for the subsidy, noting that there are some “earnest discussions going on.”
“The province should as part of the education system fully fund the occupancy cost of childcare space inside our schools,” he said.