Parents to pay more for daycare if Toronto goes ahead with funding cuts, TDSB says

The city might want to make room for more baby strollers at its next budget consultation meetings — Toronto District School Board trustee Jennifer Story is helping to round up parents and daycare operators to voice their concerns over a proposed $4.1 million funding cut to the board.

Board says it will have to raise the rent for child-care operators on its properties without city funds

Parent Amanda Munday is concerned about city budget cuts that could result in parents paying higher fees. (CBC)

The city might want to make room for more baby strollers at its next budget consultation meetings.

A proposal in the 2017 budget could see some parents paying more for child care that is already notoriously expensive.

"It's more than university," Amanda Munday said in an interview on Thursday.

Munday has two young children and she says when her four-month-old baby enrolls in fulltime daycare later this year, her childcare costs will be more than her wage.

"So much more that it wouldn't even be worth working. And that's really frustrating. I've been building my career for 10  years."

Munday says she has a "well-paying" job in the tech industry.

"I love my job. I don't want to quit my job."

Munday joined Toronto District School Board Trustee Jennifer Story at a media conference at Bruce Public School on Thursday.

TDSB Trustee Jennifer Story said she will all she can to prevent funding cuts to school daycares. (TDSB)

Story is helping to round up parents and daycare operators to voice concerns over the proposed $4.1-million funding cut that could translate into higher child-care costs.

City staff have proposed eliminating coverage for the annual occupancy costs of the TDSB, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto French District School Board and Toronto District French Catholic School Board. Those costs include paying for heat, lights and maintenance of daycare spaces on school property.

"We can fight this," Story said in an interview. "We are hoping to convince the city that this isn't a wise move to increase the already extremely high cost of child care in Toronto." 

Parents would take a hit

Story said the city is proposing to phase out that funding in the second half of this year. If that happens, the trustee said the TDSB will have to raise the rent for child-care operators in its buildings. Those costs will likely be passed onto to parents.

"School boards are not funded in a way to carry those costs," said Story. "So if the city doesn't cover it, and the province doesn't cover it, then parents are going to have to cover it. That's the least desirable scenario for everybody."

If the city's budget proposal to eliminate the $4.1 million for annual TDSB child-care centre occupancy costs gets passed, the board says parents will pay more for daycare. (CBC)

Coun. Joe Mihevc acknowledges such a cut would be a big hit to parents.  He's on the community development and recreation committee, which oversees city daycares — and he said he doesn't believe his colleagues will support the cost-cutting proposal.

"Child care is very, very important to Toronto parents, and certainly the buzz on the second floor at city council is that it's not one of the cuts that will go through." 

City spokeswoman Aggie Fortier said that the cuts would result in a net savings of $3.39 million over two years. The city has to find about $91 million in savings to balance the budget, something Toronto is legally obliged to do.

If the boards passed on their occupancy costs to daycare customers, the increased fees for child-care spaces could see an increase of up to $1.35 per day, Fortier said in an email to CBC Toronto.

City Council will debate the budget in February.

CIty's 2017 Preliminary Budget

With files from Trevor Dunn