TORONTO, Ont. – In what seems a clear case of “misplaced priorities”, child care advocates are left aghast at why Ontario’s Liberals are choking funding for child care, fueling widespread closures of centres province-wide and leaving thousands of families without licensed care, while giving hundreds of millions of dollars in bailouts to MaRS.
With revelations that the province is paying nearly a half a million dollars a month to cover loan payments on the MaRS building tower and $309 million to buy out the developer, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, today challenged the Ontario Liberals’ “skewed funding priorities. Millions of dollars are going to maintain a nearly empty MaRS building, while child care centres are closing and families needing care for their children are being left in the lurch.”
In the last few months alone, Chatham/Kent, Sarnia/Lambton and Sudbury voted to close their municipal (fully public) child care centres because the province’s new funding model for child care which partially hinges on growth is transferring millions of dollars less to their economically-hard hit and slow growing communities.
Chatham/Kent council recently voted to close two municipal centres following a $1.4 million cut in provincial funding this year. “If you do the math, that cut to child care funding for Chatham/Kent totals to about three months worth of MaRS interest payments. In effect the new funding formula is punishing communities for factors beyond their control such as slow economic and population growth while taking money that could be going to child care families need, to pay for failed pet project of the Liberals,” says CUPE Ontario’s Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam.
Despite community support to keep Coronation Park Nursery open, early in September Sarnia/Lambton council voted to close the centre down citing a 10 per cent reduction in provincial funding, totaling over $1.3 million annually.
With a $1.8 million provincial child care funding cut in 2013 and a $3.6 million potential cut in 2016, Sudbury council narrowly voted to close its only municipal centre, Junior Citizens, the only Francophone and evening care program available to local families. Municipal centres in Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay are also threatened with closure.
Poole-Cotnam called on the Premier and education minister to intervene immediately and stop the closures of municipal child care programs, saying that “child care and quality licensed care for children should not be collateral damage of flawed funding and misplaced priorities on the part of this government”.
In the last few years, while the Liberals have been the government, dozens of municipal/public child care centres have been closed across the province. These include nine in Windsor, twelve in Peel Region. This is in addition to those now closing due to lower funding transfers under the new formula.
“Mayors and councillors who don’t support public child care are using massive cuts to provincial funding to justify closing municipal centres, which are often the highest quality child care programs in the community and affecting the lives of working families significantly. These centres are being closed despite hundreds of families on wait-lists for regulated child care. This is not a record on child care the Liberals should be proud of,” says Poole-Cotnam.
For more information please contact:
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications 416-559-9300