Dear Councillors Kristin Wong-Tam, Pam McConnell and Member of Provincial Parliament Glenn Murray,
As one of your constituents, and as a parent/guardian/community member, I am writing to express my deep concerns about the proposed elimination of the Childcare Occupancy Grant in the City of Toronto Budget 2017.
The elimination of this important source of funding will have a direct impact on the affordability, accessibility, and quality of childcare in Toronto. For childcare centres within Toronto District School Board schools alone, 60 percent of children would experience an increase in fees. The removal of the occupancy grant would make regulated childcare even more expensive and put it farther out of reach for many families. We know that licensed childcare is already too costly for many parents in our city.
A recent study showed that 75 percent of families in Toronto find licensed childcare unaffordable. The 18,000 children currently on the waitlist for subsidized spaces are just one measure of how many families are struggling to pay for care. Making school-based childcare more expensive will make quality care less accessible for many families. Childcare centres within TDSB schools have estimated parents could face increased costs ranging from $15-$121 per month.
At a time when the Government of Ontario has committed to creating 100,000 new childcare spaces across the province, the City should be looking at ways to expand licensed childcare to be accessible to more families. While we support Mayor John Tory’s recent announcement of 300 new subsidized childcare spaces, this must not come at the expense of the Childcare Occupancy Grant, which effectively puts the burden of costs on parents. Funding for new childcare subsidies must come from a different source.
School Boards are partners in building and supporting early learning and childcare. But the responsibility for funding school-based child care rests with the City of Toronto and the provincial and federal governments. We urge the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario to work together to increase childcare subsidies and to maintain the Childcare Occupancy Grant.
Providing the families of our city with safe, affordable, accessible and high quality childcare options is essential to ensure children have the best possible start in life.
I urge you to reject the proposed elimination of the Childcare Occupancy Grant in the City of Toronto Budget 2017. MPP Murray, I urge you to work with the Toronto City Councillors in your riding to reject the proposed elimination of the Childcare Occupancy Grant in the City of Toronto Budget 2017.
Thank you for your time and attention,