Canada: Toronto wins two-month reprieve on provincial child care cuts - PressFrom - Canada
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CanadaToronto wins two-month reprieve on provincial child care cuts

13:51  30 august  2019
13:51  30 august  2019 Source:   thestar.com

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“ Child care needs more investment from the provincial government, not less,” Kelly said. Carolyn Ferns of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care said municipalities will see a drop in provincial funding well over the million calculated so far, given other changes still need to be factored in.

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Toronto wins two-month reprieve on provincial child care cuts © Richard Lautens Carolyn Ferns of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care welcomes the two-month reprieve, saying it gives the city more time to try to save child care spots on the chopping block.

Toronto officials are scrambling to save 3,049 child care spaces after the Ford government agreed this week to give the city two extra months to figure out how to come up with the money to pay for the desperately needed spots.

The spaces in 51 new child care centres, slated to open in local schools over the next three years, were approved under the previous Liberal government and were supposed to be fully funded by the province.

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“Affordable child care is an important issue not just for parents, it’s important for Canada’s economy,” said CCPA senior economist David Macdonald, co-author of the report. Child care costs for toddlers were slightly lower, with the levels being highest in Toronto at ,324 a month , and lowest in Quebec

Toronto Early Learning & Child Care Services (TELCCS). Child Care Centre Rates. Infants. Birth to 18 months . Full Time Care – Kindergarten & School Age (Includes full day care on PA days and school breaks – fee will not be waived on these days).

But in April, the education ministry told municipalities and school boards it would cover construction costs only if local governments committed by Aug. 30 to pay for fee subsidies and other operating expenses needed to make the centres viable.

City Council voted in July to ask the province to reconsider the cuts or extend the funding deadline until at least the end of October to give staff time to assess 2020 budget pressures and prioritize the projects.

City staff estimate it would cost an additional $35 million a year to cover the shortfall.

The extension is “good news because it gives the city a little bit more time,” said Carolyn Ferns of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, who joined councillors and parents at a city hall news conference in July to decry the cuts.

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“ Child care fees vary predictably across the country based on provincial policy,” says Friendly, executive director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit. “They are lowest in provinces that set the fees and higher in the cities that are market driven.” The report shows that policy matters when

Trust Childcare is a midtown Toronto Daycare that offers infant, toddler, preschool and kindergarten programs for children in the Summerhill area of Toronto . High-quality childcare programs have considerable long-term effects on such areas as school achievement, cognitive skills, language ability

“But the problem still remains. The city will have to figure out how it is going to pay the operating costs for these projects with all the other funding pressures it is facing,” she said.

Councillor Mike Layton said the extension, while welcome, is another example of the Ford government “unnecessarily creating chaos wherever they go.”

“What kind of a game are they playing? They knew full-well what our decision-making cycle was,” the councillor for Ward 11 University-Rosedale said in an interview. “It’s still going to be an enormous pressure to identify space in the budget.”

Layton questioned how the province is going to achieve its spring budget promise of creating 30,000 new child care spaces, including 10,000 in schools, over the next five years, by cutting funding from municipalities like Toronto that are working hard to expand the system.

“Perhaps they are now finally realizing that those decisions are working counter to what they had promised, and they are going to start backtracking to make sure they can deliver,” he said. “I can only hope that is the case.”

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Network Child Care Services . Your Child is Our First Priority. Network offers Licensed child care in a home setting at 70 locations across Toronto . Our affiliated Providers deliver quality mixed-age small-group care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-agers.

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Toronto Mayor John Tory also welcomed the extension.

“We will continue to have discussions with the province about how we can work together to provide more child care spaces and access to those spaces for Toronto families,” said the mayor’s spokesman Don Peat.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the province is investing over $2 billion in licensed child care and early years programs this year.

“This includes the CARE tax credit, which will benefit up to 300,000 families across Ontario, as well as continued support for eligible child care professionals working in licensed child care settings through the wage enhancement program,” said Alexandra Adamo.

“Capital funding for previously-approved school-based child care ... projects remains in place,” she added.

Ontario has licensed child care for fewer than 30 per cent of young children in the province and parents pay the highest fees in the country.

Families in Toronto pay an average of about $20,000-a-year per child, the equivalent of a second mortgage or rent payment. Ninety-one per cent of centres have wait lists and almost 15,000 families are waiting for fee subsidies, according to the city.

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Vancouver child care costs among worst in Canada. Care for Vancouver preschoolers is somewhat cheaper at 0 a month . "I think it won 't be surprising Other Toronto -area cities such as Vaughan, Markham and Mississauga also topped the list with average monthly costs well above ,000 a month .

The 51 centres under development — many of them in underserved areas of Scarborough and Etobicoke — would have provided child care spots for 490 infants, 975 toddlers and 1,584 preschoolers.

Premier Doug Ford’s Etobicoke North riding has three child care centres with 225 spots on the chopping block.

In addition to these at-risk centres, the province confirmed last week it will no longer pick up the full cost of operating child care spaces created since 2016.

As previously announced in the spring budget, the government will pay just 80 per cent of operating costs starting in January.

Municipalities that can’t afford to cover the shortfall will be forced to cut fee subsidies and other operating grants, said Ferns, a move that will likely cause programs to close.

It will also make it difficult to create new child care centres, she said.

“With all these changes and all this uncertainty, no municipality is going to have the confidence to want to move forward with expanding child care,” Ferns said.

Laurie Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb

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