Decision restores funding for daycares in schools temporarily, as Tory demands more funding from province.
Toronto Star, by Feb. 6, 2017
After public criticism of a plan to phase out money given to school boards to help operate daycare centres, Mayor John Tory has reversed course and says the grants are here to stay . . . for now.
“This . . . investment ($1.13 million) in 2017 will mean the parents of more than 8,000 children in Toronto will not see their fees go up,” Tory told reporters at John A. Leslie Public School in Scarborough on Monday morning.
“Asking people to pay more for child care, right now, is not reasonable and it’s not right.”
Tory acknowledged that the reversal comes after he heard from parents concerned about the impact of increased fees.
His executive, which meets tomorrow, will continue, as promised, to recommend council fund 300 new child care subsidies at a cost of $3 million.
Tory’s previous announcement said the $1.13 million staff estimated would be saved from occupancy grants would be “repurposed” to support the new subsidies.
On Monday, he said that money would be found elsewhere in the budget.
He did not provide additional details.
The plan approved by the budget committee last month, led by Tory’s hand-picked budget chief Gary Crawford, proposed cutting a grant to Toronto’s four publicly-funded school boards which support 350 daycares in schools.
City staff estimated the cut would cost parents an extra $350 per child per year.
The budget committee put forward a plan that plugged a $91-million gap using a combination of new taxes reserve funds while tying a rise in property taxes to the rate of inflation.
Council will finalize the budget next week.
Parents and councillors have been pushing Tory and his allies on budget committee to find sustainable, stable funding for childcare.
When a preliminary budget was presented late last year, it did not include funding for 75 council-approved childcare subsidies for low-income parents, much to the frustration of Councillor Janet Davis and others.
The ratio of subsidized spaces to full-fee spaces has been declining since 2010.
With 18,000 children on the waitlist for subsidized childcare, Tory, in a letter released Monday, has demanded Premier Kathleen Wynne fund at least 4,918 new childcare subsidies to establish the same ratio that existed in 2010.
City staff had estimated that would cost $49 million.
While Monday’s announcement was “good news for parents,” it is only a one-time solution, Davis said.
“So I’m hoping that the City of Toronto will continue to fund child care in schools until we get additional funding from the provincial government,” she said.
“The parents of Toronto had a real impact on the mayor. What we saw today was a very significant reversal . . . . I think the mayor clearly felt the pressure from parents across the city.”
The city needs to keep pressuring the province, and Toronto needs to pay its fair share, Davis added.
Jennifer Story, TDSB trustee for Ward 15 (Toronto Danforth), said she is glad the politicians saw that “this cut would have meant immediate, substantial cost increases to parents,” and that there is now another year to figure out a long-term fix.
Tory’s announcement Monday followed direct requests to Wynne to contribute significant funding to childcare in Toronto.
Read the complete article at Toronto Star.