Protecting Childcare services in our communities
Reversing the Cancellation of School Occupancy Grants
At last week's Economic and Community Development Committee, I moved a motion to reverse the recommended cancellation of School Occupancy Grants - a cancellation that if implemented, would have resulted in a rise in childcare fees for thousands of families across the city.
A report on the agenda from city staff indicated that because of current and planned funding cuts by the province, our city’s childcare system faces significant uncertainty - and so, the occupancy grants should be terminated.
However, under no circumstances am I prepared to tell the 18,000 kids and their families that effective Jan. 1 their child-care fees are going up because this city terminated an agreement. My motion, that was approved by the Committee, continues city-funding for the operating agreements until at least the conclusion of the 2020 Budget process, where we will discuss the matter along with additional challenges detailed below.
School Occupancy Grants cover the occupancy costs for 349 non-profit childcare centres in 4 School Boards, for more than 18,000 children. These grants mean that the cost of using the space to operate the program is not passed on to parents, who are already shouldered with the highest childcare fees in the country.
City Council will now consider the matter on July 16th-17th.
Provincial Funding Cuts
Earlier this spring, along with attempts to cut more than $1 billion from public health in Ontario, the Provincial Government announced deep cuts to child care funding throughout Ontario. Although the Government later indicated that these cuts would be reversed, we know that cuts to critical funds to ensure affordability are still in place for this year, and that significant cuts from the province are still planned to take effect on January 1, 2020.
At last week's Economic and Community Development Committee, I moved a motion for staff to report to our October meeting on potential impacts of these cuts, and with any new information, so we can ensure that not only City Council, but members of the public, are informed of what is at stake. I vow to continue to protect our city’s childcare services as we continue to fight back against Provincial attacks on our communities.