East York daycare fears it won't make it through COVID-19 closure
TORONTO -- An East York daycare centre fears it will not make it through the COVID-19 pandemic, putting 160 children out of care.
The owners of Blossoming Minds Learning Centre, located on Danforth Avenue, said on Monday that they are worried they will not be able to cover the rent next month.
The daycare has been temporarily closed since March because of the novel coronavirus crisis, and co-owner Maggie Moser worries this may become permanent.
“We are worried, definitely,” Moser told CTV News Toronto.
According to Moser, their landlord has not committed to the government rent subsidy program, which would see the government pick up 50 per cent of the rent and the remaning half would be split evenly between the landlord and the tenant.
“It would help, but no, we still have fixed costs, almost $18,000 after the rent subsidy,” Moser said.
Furthermore, Moser said she worries that even if the facility can reopen, she doesn’t know how many children would be permitted in the room at one time.
Sarah Masterson sends her three-year-old daughter Nicole to this daycare and said losing this facility would be devastating to many parents in the area.
“Personally, I would not be able to go back to work because I wouldn’t have a spot for my child,” she said.
Masterson said she has been on not-for-daycare waiting lists for three years without so much as a phone call back.
“There’s a lot of competition for childcare spots in this neighbourhood,” she said.
Unbeknownst to his employer, Austin Slyford-McGrath, who works at the facility, started a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise money and prevent the centre from closing for good.
“The time that we are in, it’s very needed and I’m worried about my job because I work here. Everybody is worried about their job so I put it out there to help with the fix costs funds,” he said.
Co-owner Krista Dahlgren said “the main problem right now” is that their facility is a private centre in Toronto and they do not get any operating grants from the city.
“It is funding the province sends to the municipalities for childcare, but the municipalities decide who gets it,” Dahlgren said.
The Association of Daycare Operators said the City of Toronto will only give the money to non-profit, when, for example in Simcoe County, the municipality passes the grant on to both non-profit and for-profit facilities, and continues to fund the centres even during the COVID-19 closure.
Mayor John Tory said the matter of daycare funding is on the city’s agenda.
“I can say that it is something we are going to have to take a look at,” he said on Monday. “We were discussing this morning. One of the most important comments beyond public transit to the successful reopening of the city on a wide scale is going to be the availability of childcare for the children of those who have to go to work, either essential workers or those who are going back to their jobs."