Hello surplus! Let's talk child care!
I’m choking back the tears. I mean, let me get this straight: the Tories promise a surplus and give us a deficit, but Mayor David Miller gives us a surplus and he’s slammed for it?
Perhaps it was the show he made of it, but let me tell you I am breathing a sigh of relief that SOMEONE has been handling our finances to the point where we have more and not less… unlike --and indeed in spite of -- other levels of government.
Let’s think for a second about an issue that is dear to the hearts (and pocketbooks) of many Toronto families: child care. For working parents in this city, child care is a constant concern.
Toronto is full of women who have toddled into every day care they could find, while still pregnant, to get their names on waiting lists. And even then, they are told their chances of finding a spot, when and where they need it most, are slim to none. Just this week a single working mother in my neighbourhood was told her child can’t go to our neighbourhood school because there simply aren’t any spots available in local day cares. And she doesn’t need a subsidized spot.
The federal and provincial governments have dropped the childcare ball, and we – the working families they scramble to embrace in their rhetoric – are left juggling increasingly outrageous daycare fees (for example, for one child in kindergarten and one in after-school care, you will be paying close to $20,000/year for daycare). Meanwhile, families with subsidized spaces teeter on the edge of losing their subsidy, and daycare workers remain some of the most overworked and underpaid.
The provincial and federal budgets failed to step up to the plate. All they had to do was come up with a paltry $63.5-million to save 8,000 subsidized spaces. And then, to top it off, city staff propose to cut rent subsidies for some day cares …adding $60-80 a month to fees. That’s enough to push anyone over the edge!
Our little day care is run by a board of parent volunteers, all of us struggling to understand the extraordinarily complex finances involved in running a not-for-profit day care. Right now, we are in the midst of trying to figure out how to keep the day care afloat, trying to ensure that once the much-welcome all-day learning comes to fruition, we will still have enough day care spaces – throughout the city – to accommodate the infants and toddlers and preschoolers…
So, hello surplus. I welcome you with open arms and hopeful heart.
If you are a parent with kids in child care or you ever expect to be one, join in the call for support for child care. Tell the city to shelve the plan to cut the rent subsidy. And celebrate the fact that things at least didn’t get worse...