Toronto

Province scales down potential cuts to Toronto child care, Tory says

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the Ontario government has scaled back potential cuts to child care, but said the province shouldn't be reducing child-care funding at all.

Ontario cutting up to $5M in child care funding for 2020, but councillor says deeper cuts ahead

Mayor John Tory commented on the funding changes during a media event on Saturday. (CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he's glad the Ontario government has scaled back potential cuts to child care, but said the province shouldn't be reducing funding at all.

Tory said the city was facing a $15 million cut to child care funding earlier this year, however the province has reduced that cut to $2-5 million for 2020.

Tory said child-care cuts were "ill-advised" and he's glad the government is reducing the blow. Still, he said, cutbacks to child care are "just not right," and governments should be increasing funding if possible.

Earlier this year, Doug Ford's government announced it would move from paying 100 per cent of the cost for affordable child care in the city, to a 80-20 cost-sharing model with municipalities.

Alexandra Adamo, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, confirmed Saturday that Toronto's funding reduction was less than $5 million for next year. All municipalities received their official 2020 child care funding amounts on Friday,  she said.

Larger cut in future years, councillor says

However, Coun. Joe Cressy said it appears there will still be a $15 million cut in future years, which would impact around 760 children.

He said city staff are still reviewing details after receiving information late Friday afternoon. But he said it appears the province will continue with $15 million in annual reductions to low-income child-care subsidies starting in 2021.

Cressy called the changes a "slow and painful Band-Aid rip," calling on the province to fully reverse all cuts to child care.

Adamo said the province has not released its 2021 or 2022 numbers yet.

Change comes after pushback

A report from the city earlier this month said the $15 million reduction would impact around 760 affordable child-care spaces. About 17,000 families are currently on the city wait list for subsidized child care.

Advocates called on the province to reverse the cuts and return to full funding.

Tory also said he pushed back and "believed these reductions were wrong."

In an email, Adamo said "there was never a $15 million cut" and that all municipalities were told their 2020 child-care funding allocation on Friday.

Adamo said the 80-20 model is "in line with the previous government's spending on child care, minus their election ramp up."

A city report previously notes that the reduction would result in a return to subsidy levels established prior to 2018.

Backpedalled on other cuts in May

Ford's government has backpedalled on other child-care cuts earlier this year. It reversed its original retroactive cuts to municipal funding in May following public pressure from Toronto.

"Rather than this slow and painful ripping off of a Band-Aid, it's time for the provincial government to completely reverese their cuts to child care," Cressy said in a statement Saturday.

"Our focus should be on scaling up child care rather than endlessly fighting to stop the provincial government from cutting what we have."

Tory said he will continue to advocate for more child-care funding, not less.

With files from The Canadian Press

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