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Tory calls on the province to fund daycares in TDSB schools

Momin Qureshi and Christine Chubb | posted Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2017

Mayor John Tory is trying to ease the minds of parents seeking daycare in the city by looking to the province for funding.

At the start of 2017, Tory announced they would begin to phase out the $1.13-million Childcare Occupancy Grant — which helps with the cost of maintaining daycare spaces in public, Catholic and French schools.

Tory is calling out the provincial government to step up and take responsibility for the schools they fund.

“The fact of the matter is, the city is subsidizing childcare centres inside schools owned and operated by school boards funded largely by the province and by the very significant education taxes that people pay as part of their property tax bill,” he explained.

The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care says without the grant, affected families would have to pay at least $350 more in child care fees every year. The cut would not affect low-income parents who get subsidies.

According to the mayor, city staff originally advised the phasing out of the subsidies because they “don’t support the city’s principles or equity and transparency”, stating they are inconsistent with how all other child care programs in Toronto are supported by the city.

“Sixty-five per cent of Toronto child care centres do not receive a rent supplement. So 35 per cent of families benefit from this arrangement and 65 per cent of families do not,” Tory said. “That is clearly not fair and not consistent. It is not being paid for by the right government and we need the province to address that now.”

Tory has sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking the province to cover the cost of daycares inside TDSB schools – which the province funds.

“I asked her to direct the Ministry of Education to directly fund the full cost of spaces used by all early learning child care and before and after school programs in Toronto,” he said. “Eliminate the current unfairness and place the financial responsibility where it should be – with the province of Ontario.”

But there is some good news for parents.

According to the mayor, the city has found money to ensure the daycare spaces can be saved for one year.

“Asking people to pay more for child care right now is not reasonable and it’s not right. So we will maintain the Occupancy Grant for 2017 while we work hard to see these costs transitioned to where they belong – namely the province of Ontario.”

 The executive committee is expected to approve the grant on Tuesday.

“This $1.13-million investment in 2017 will mean that the parents of more than 8,000 children in Toronto will not see their fees go up on account of any change to those occupancy grants.”

Premier Wynne has yet to make a public statement regarding Tory’s letter.

Tension have run high between the usually allied political leaders since the premier nixed Tory’s road toll proposal two weeks ago.

Despite city council’s overwhelming approval, Wynne denied Toronto’s request to charge a $2 toll on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway in favour of giving Ontario municipalities a bigger share of gas tax money for transit.

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