TORONTO- An informal survey of 12 Consolidated Municipal Services Managers (CMSMs) and two District Social Service Administration Boards (DSSABs) showed that municipally-operated child care centres have been considered for closure in Stratford, Kenora, Sudbury and St. Mary’s. Since the survey was completed, OSBCC has learned that the Owen Sound municipal child care will close in five months and Hanover in 14 months.
“We heard that 10 out of the 12 CMSMs have been paying more than their 20% share of child costs, as outlined in provincial-municipal cost-sharing, because of cuts in provincial funding,” says Shellie Bird, OCBCC co-president and author of the report. “Now, they have real concerns about their ability to sustain municipal child care.”
The majority of respondents said they foresee possible closures or service reductions in 2005 as well. In the last five years, municipal centres have closed or been privatized in Toronto, Kingston, Elliott Lake, Timmins and the United County of Prescott-Russell.
“It’s a disturbing trend,” says CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan. “Municipal child care programs set the benchmark for quality and are most likely to be equipped to serve children with special needs. They are also most likely to meet all the proven indicators of high quality: well-trained, well-compensated, unionized staff; not-for-profit delivery; enforced standards, and integration with community services.”
Asked if budget pressures mean parents are relying more on informal or for-profit child care, five respondents said yes, five said no, and others were not sure or did not respond. Some suggested there is greater reliance on recreation programs and informal care.Ontario who want to provide the best care for their children,” said Wayne Samuelson, OFL president. “The evidence is clear that early childhood education gives kids a great start. They shouldn’t be denied those opportunities because the province is not putting in its share.”
“This has to be a concern for working parents all across
All three speakers called on the province to return immediately to the 80/20 cost-share arrangement that continues to exist on paper.
“Otherwise, municipalities will not be able to stem the erosion and instability that is plaguing the system,” Bird said.
The report also calls on the province to get the $58 million in federal funds that it has earmarked for regulated child care out to municipalities as soon as possible, to designate three-quarters of the $192 million available this year under the federal Early Childhood Development Initiative for regulated child care and to restore the $160 million cut from child care by the previous government.
The report on the status of municipal child care is available at childcareontario.org and at cupe.on.ca.
For more information, please contact:
Pat Daley Kira Heineck, Executive Director
CUPE Communications Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
416-299-9739 ext 264 416-538-0628 ext 3
416-616-6142 (cell) 416-529-7521 (cell)
— Ontario could lose at least six municipal child care centres over the next year and a half, says a report from the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario and the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).