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Toronto—Ontario municipalities are sounding the alarm that chronic under-funding is putting the health of our child care system at risk, is shortchanging children with special needs and is restricting access to care for low-income earners, show the findings of a new study entitled Analysis of Ten Ontario Municipal Child Care Service Plans released today at a Queen’s Park media conference.

The study compiled by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) analyzed the child care service plans submitted to the province by Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, Niagara, Ottawa, Peterborough, Stratford, Sudbury, Windsor and Thunder Bay.

In each of the plans, the municipalities are emphatically telling the province that they are committed to accessible, high quality child care, but local governments can no longer sustain the increasing financial burden caused by provincial funding shortfalls and that the province must increase its share of funding.

This chronic provincial under-funding means municipalities “are dipping into their own funding reserves to maintain existing child care services in their communities. Also, without new money, they are scrambling to meet the child care needs of people in the Ontario Works program,” says Toronto councillor Olivia Chow, who along with City of Ottawa councillor Alex Munter, and Brian O’Keefe the Ontario secretary-treasurer of CUPE, provided details of the study.

Local governments point to increasingly long waiting lists for subsidized spaces and insufficient dollars for fee subsidies and special needs resources. Some municipalities are also asking the province to commit to a funding stabilization plan that “would go directly into badly needed wage enhancements and pay equity adjustments for child care workers, who are among the lowest paid in the province,” says O’Keefe.

They identify the critical need for more infant spaces, more special needs spaces, and more services for teens with developmental delays. To fill the funding void, municipalities are resorting to stopgap, short-term solutions such as shuffling dollars from one program to another.

“This is no way to meet the long-term essential funding demands of the child care system. It’s just not sustainable,” says Munter.

Municipalities concurred the following policy changes must be made in order to meet the current needs of the child care system:
  • Increasing funding for fee subsidy, special needs resources, resource centres, wage subsidies, and to address growing waiting lists.
  • Channeling federal government ECDI funding directly into child care programs.
  • Provide annual capital funding cost-shared 50/50 between the province and municipalities. The province has not made any capital investments in child care since 1995.
  • Ensure support for low-income families to pursue education and skills training.
  • Re-assess the new subsidy qualifying criteria that treats RRSPs as liquid assets and OSAP student loans as income.

For more information please contact:
Olivia Chow, Councillor, City of Toronto
(416) 567-4036
Brian O’Keefe, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario
(416) 579-7414
Alex Munter, Regional Councillor, City of Ottawa
(613) 580-2474