The Child Care Challenge: Impacts of Underfunding in Toronto

The Toronto Star

Social Justice reporter for the Toronto Star Laurie Monsebraaten knows first hand how difficult it is to navigate the patchwork of services that make up our child care system, and has written a series of articles, the Child Care Challenge, to shine a light on the lengths to which some families must go to find care for their children. Well aware that these issues come from a lack of investment in early learning, and the chronic underfunding to these programs, Monsebraaten begins to reveal the impacts of this child care crisis on Ontario and Toronto's families.


Ontario child care facing uncertain future February 11, 2011 by Laurie Monsebraaten

Carrie Brown, who has been the supervisor at St. Michael and All Angels Day Care for 30 years, fears the affects that full day kindergarten will have on her daycares and others in the province. Andrea Calver from the Coalition explains, “Premier McGuinty said he would free up spaces in child care and actually make it more affordable, but subsidy waiting lists are growing and centres say they are losing spaces and may be forced to close.”

Grandmother steps into the breach February 11, 2011 Laurie Monsebraaten
Before Lisa Sawatsky and Neal Prabhu gave birth to their first child Olivia they did a great deal of work just to get her on a waiting list at a daycare. When they weren’t able to find one, they had to resort to in home child care. They soon learned that their daughter was not getting the same care they would have liked for her to have. That’s when Sue, Neal’s mother stepped in to care for Olivia.

Licensed daycare rare in early 1980s February11, 2011 Laurie Monsebraaten

Nina Prabhu shares her memories of attempting to find child care in the 1980s for her children.

The child-care challenge: Toronto searching for solutions written February 19, 2011 By Laurie Monsebraaten

Rahima Akhter can’t go to school to help support her family unless she receives subsidy assistance for child care. She would like to enroll her daughter Jannatul, in the day care located at the school where she attends half day kindergarten.
With 17,700 children in Toronto on the waiting list to receive subsidy, there is a neighbourhood centre with vacant spaces because local families can’t afford the full fee and are waiting for a child care subsidy.
Toronto has 56,000 spaces and only has 24,000 fee subsidies offered. In 2008 Canada was last on the list of 25 affluent countries in child care services.
Since Queens Park has not increased funding to child care, the provincial contribution for  child care subsidies has not increased since 1995.
Toronto has been using reserve funds to make up for lack of provincial funding to ensure there are 24,000 subsidies available. The reserve funds will run out at the end of next year which may mean that the system will be at a loss of $27 million and 2,700 subsidies will be lost.

“Toronto lawyer recalls halcyon daycare days” published on  February 19, 2011 by Laurie Monsebraaten

Sarah Rogers a lawyer and her husband who work in the film industry worry that when they do decide to have children they will not be able to afford the high cost. She recalls the fond memories of her child care facility when she was younger and hopes she will be able to give that opportunity to her children.

Toronto Star Editorial: Spaces must be affordable, printed February 21, 2011

Child care funding in Ontario is inadequate -  Toronto has over 56,000 childcare spaces, but child care can be hard to find and very expensive. In Ontario, child care can cost  $60 a day - compared to Quebec where it is only $7 a day.  In Toronto,  more than 17,000 children are waiting to receive one of the 24,000 subsidies available.
Mayor Rob Ford is looking into a task force that would report on how to “expand access to affordable, quality child care.”
Queens Park and Ottawa be involved in taking responsibility for funding. Ontario has not increased child care funding since 1995. For Ottawa, the $100 that parents receive once a month if they have children under 6 does not even pay for 2 days’ worth of care. “Liberals and NDP have rightly vowed to make a true national child-care plan a federal election issue.
With a provincial election in October and a near-constantly looming federal one, the mayor’s task force is well-timed to raise the profile of the city’s child-care needs and the crisis that is already here.”

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