Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties get­ting at least $80M less for child care: Group

The Sudbury Star - - ONTARIO - ALLISON JONES

This gov­ern­ment kept these cuts hid­den from fam­i­lies, be­cause they know how shame­ful and heart­less they re­ally are, and they know they are tar­get­ing fam­i­lies who are in the most need in our prov­ince. NDP leader An­drea Horwath.

On­tario mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will get at least $80 mil­lion less from the prov­ince in child care fund­ing this year, ac­cord­ing to an ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Car­olyn Ferns, with the On­tario Coali­tion for Bet­ter Child Care, said once mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties cal­cu­late ad­di­tional changes to cost-shar­ing agree­ments, that fig­ure could rise dra­mat­i­cally.

“We’re re­ally think­ing that once you see those changes, once all the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties re­ally crunch the numbers on that, it’s go­ing to be much big­ger,” she said Tues­day. “It could be twice as much.”

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Lisa Thomp­son said $80 mil­lion does not line up with her numbers, but nei­ther she nor the min­istry pro­vided a fig­ure for the to­tal im­pact to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Thomp­son said mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can find some ways to find money.

“We need to be tak­ing a look at re­al­iz­ing ef­fi­cien­cies be­cause mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across On­tario have left child care spa­ces on the ta­ble and that’s not ac­cept­able,” said Thomp­son, sug­gest­ing spa­ces at city-run child cares go un­filled.

“We’re en­cour­ag­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tions at mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties or within mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties around the prov­ince to take a look at how they’re ad­min­is­ter­ing the pro­grams and for good­ness sakes do not leave any child care space on the ta­ble.”

The City of Toronto has done the cal­cu­la­tions Ferns ref­er­enced, and says it is get­ting $85 mil­lion less in fund­ing from the prov­ince this year — $29 mil­lion from a re­duc­tion in fund­ing al­lo­ca­tions and the rest due to the cost-shar­ing changes.

Those changes in­clude ask­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to con­trib­ute 20 per cent of fund­ing meant to help cre­ate more li­censed, not-for­profit child care spa­ces, when the prov­ince had pre­vi­ously con­trib­uted all of the money.

The gov­ern­ment dis­putes Toronto’s numbers, say­ing the city will get $27 mil­lion less, in­clud­ing all fund­ing changes.

Ferns’ $80 mil­lion fig­ure in­cludes a fund that helped child care cen­tres cover in­creas­ing labour costs due to a min­i­mum wage in­crease to $14 an hour — money that the gov­ern­ment says was in­tended last year as one-time fund­ing, but the pre­vi­ous Lib­eral ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter said that’s false.

“It was per­ma­nent fund­ing, be­cause the min­i­mum wage in­crease is ob­vi­ously not go­ing to end,” said Mitzie Hunter. “Those costs have in­creased and the fee sta­bi­liza­tion sup­port was meant to help child care cen­tres not pass on in­creased costs to par­ents.”

Vanessa Kelly, a mom and for­mer li­censed home day care provider in Thomp­son’s rid­ing of Huron-Bruce, called on the min­is­ter to re­verse the changes.

“Lack of ac­cess to li­censed child care keeps par­ents, es­pe­cially moth­ers, out of our lo­cal work­force,” she said.

Horwath said last month’s provin­cial bud­get was not up front about child care or other fund­ing cuts to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“This gov­ern­ment kept these cuts hid­den from fam­i­lies, be­cause they know how shame­ful and heart­less they re­ally are, and they know they are tar­get­ing fam­i­lies who are in the most need in our prov­ince,” Horwath said in the leg­is­la­ture.

FILES POST­MEDIA NEWS

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Lisa Thomp­son speaks in the leg­is­la­ture at Queens Park on May 2.

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