A dozen Windsor area daycare parents delivered a giant "budget cookie" to Ontario MPP Dwight Duncan's office today asking the Finance Minister to "chew this over" before finalizing a budget they fear may contain up to $63.5 million in cuts. The cookie was decorated with what the parents say are "all the numbers the Minister needs" including how many centres will close and how many spaces will be lost if proposed cuts are in Ontario's 2010 spring budget.
At stake, these parents say, is $63.5 million for 7600 subsidies that help families access affordable child care in Ontario.
The pizza sized cookie delivered today to Duncan's Windsor constituency office was decorated in coloured icing that read: "budget cookie" all around the edge. The centre of the cookie, also decorated with icing, read "7600 spaces" and "300 centres" indicating how many child spaces will be lost and how many centres are expected to close if Duncan allows the $63.5 million in cuts to find their way into his Thursday budget.
"This is about ensuring spaces for children," said one of the parents, Shannon Porcellini, "and it's about parents who rely on subsidies to work and retrain and child care centres that need funding to remain viable."
Porcellini also cited research by economist Robert Fairholm predicting 3,480 jobs could be lost by parents who can't go to work because of a loss of daycare spaces if the cuts proceed and a further 3,030 in job losses in the child care sector.
The loss of subsidies comes at the same time as 4 and 5 year olds are being transferred from community based child care into the school system under the province's early learning plan this coming September. The removal of over 35% of the children they care for will cause centres to close across the province. The government's own analysis estimates that in this year alone 48% of child care centres will be affected.
For background information about child care in Ontario please see http://childcareon.nationbuilder.com/