The OCBCC alerted the NDP to the threat by the Ministry of Education to claw-back any child care stabilization money allocated this fall, if not spent by December 31st. Child care programs are in dire straits and we worked hard to advocate for every single penny the government committed to stabilizing our child care programs. While it is unlikely CMSM and DSSAB’s will not find useful ways to spend the stabilization funding, we are appalled that the Ministry of Education would threaten to claw-back any funding from our sector.
NDP Education Critic Peter Tabuns asked the following question to Minister Broten on September 8, 2012.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: A question to the Minister of Education: Parents continue to see their local child care centres shut their doors. Twenty-four centres have closed in Toronto alone in this past year.
In April, the government agreed, under pressure from the NDP, to provide $90 million to help keep child care centres open. Why are child care centres still waiting for this money, and why is the government threatening to claw back all the money that’s not spent by December 31?
Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I’m very proud of our government’s record when it comes to child care. Since 2003, child care funding has increased from $532 million to more than $1 billion—a 90% increase. We stepped in with an investment of $63.5 million to permanently fill the funding gap when the federal government stepped away. We are providing an additional $51 million in funding to child care centres, phased in over the next few years. We’re also providing $12 million over five years to help non-profit child care centres renovate.
In this year’s budget, we invested more than $90 million in 2012, $68 million in 2013 and $84 million in 2014.
We are working right now with the sector in a big conversation to find a pathway to transition, to modernize the child care system in Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?
Mr. Peter Tabuns: All those claims are no comfort to children and parents facing the closure of their centres.
Minister, the government knew a year ago that it would take municipalities some time to get provincial dollars to child care centres, but the government took its time, and now municipalities are being threatened with losing dollars that aren’t spent by December 31.
When will the minister stop these threats, stop putting more child care centres at risk of closure, and promise that every dollar of the $90 million she just talked about, the $90-million transition funding, will be spent to help child care centres stay open?
Hon. Laurel C. Broten: Full-day kindergarten is the most significant transformation in our education system in a generation, and we need to find a way for full-day kindergarten to live compatibly with a modern child care setting.
We have seen investments in the city of Toronto go up by 50%. We will continue to work with our partner municipalities. We will continue to support Ontario families to give their kids the best early learning that we can in this province, and we are recognized around the world for doing that.