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TDSB welcomes reversal of child care cuts but urges sustainable funding solutions

John Tory listens to a consituent at EYCC January 09, 2017 -GARY W-P

John Tory listens to a constituent at EYCC January 09, 2017 -GARY W-P

While calling an announcement that Mayor John Tory will now support removal of proposed city budget cuts to funding for school daycare services “good news for the coming year,” Toronto District School Board chair Robin Pilkey today said in a statement that “a sustainable funding base for Toronto’s child care services” needs to be developed.

Ms. Pilkey’s statement adds that the city also needs “to re-think cutting funding for pools and leaving TDSB to shoulder the costs” and to work with the province, board and parents “to develop a sustainable funding strategy before cutting funding and before closing pools.”

City council’s Budget Committee has been considering cuts proposed by staff to eliminate a school-based child care occupancy grant (that allows schools to operate child care centres without charging parents full rate) as well as closing several city-run pools, including one in the East York area.

Robin Pilkey TDSB chair

Robin Pilkey TDSB chair

As we reported in issue 026, the proposed closing of S. H. Armstrong Community Centre on Woodfield Road was publicly opposed by East York student and Olympic multiple-gold medal-winning swimmer Penny Oleksiak, whose tweet in early January led the mayor to say then that he hoped to have that cut dropped from the list of cutbacks as well.

Pilkey’s statement today notes that “there is only one taxpayer and we are all managing tight budgets.

“As with child care funding, we need to work together and with other levels of government to develop a sustainable funding strategy before cutting funding and before closing pools.”

On the question of child care funding, Pilkey took direct aim at the Province of Ontario, noting that “the City, the TDSB, child care operators and the Ontario government should develop a sustainable funding base for Toronto’s child care services.

“With the province looking to add 100,000 new spaces in the next five years, it is clear that Queen’s Park needs to be at the table to assist the City with new funding support,” her statement adds.

Other proposed city budget cuts that drew strong opposition from East York residents, community leaders and politicians at budget committee public input meetings in January at East York Civic Center include:

* scrapping an already approved extension of general day care fee subsidies;

* closing of the Capri child care centre operated by the city;

* reducing park and gardens maintenance;

* closing Extreme Heat Cooling Centres; and

* cutbacks to arts and community grants.

The city, which is required by provincial legislation to balance its operating budget each year, is striving to overcome a $91 million deficit between proposed budget expenditures and revenues.  The next meeting of the full council is on February 15, but council’s Executive Committee is scheduled to consider the 2017 Operating and Capital budgets at a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at City Hall.

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