The proposed 2018 child care net operating budget is $1 million less than it was in 2017. The budget reduction goes even further than the flat-line target given to all City departments. The budget “achieves” a net decrease of .1% by using new revenues from the other levels of government and parents to fund increased costs. It reneges on the Council-approved funding commitment of 20% matching dollars to address the huge unmet demand for affordable child care in our city.
The City child care budget of $551 million gross/$80.584 million net, funds a range of community-based and public children’s programs including child care centres and home-child care agencies, child and family centres and after-school programs. Despite recent investments, the City still serves less than 20% of the child population and has over 12,000 eligible children waiting for fee subsidy to help pay the costs of child care.
The Federal/provincial government provided $56M for 2017/18 to add licensed spaces, increase child care fee subsidies, keep fees down for all families, support home child care and special needs programs. Inexplicably, the budget also leaves out millions of dollars provided by the Federal/Provincial governments for new initiatives.
What’s In and What’s Not
New Services that Are Funded and Included in the Budget
A projected $7.94 million of new funding ($5.26M from province for inflation and $3.62M from parent fees) with other adjusted offsets, is included in the budget to provide:
In addition, one-time money is being taken from reserve funds to provide:
New Services that are Funded but Not Included in the Budget
Despite 100% of the funding being available from Fed/Provincial governments, (cost would be $48M gross, $0 net), these services are not included in the Preliminary Budget:
Toronto Child Care Growth Strategy: City Contribution
In 2017 the City approved a 10 year Growth Strategy – and funding commitment — to increase licensed spaces by 30,000 to provide spaces for 50% of Toronto children aged 0-4 years, ensure there are fee subsidies for 40-50% of those spaces, and address affordability for all families and reduce child care fees by up to 50 percent. Fed/Provincial funding for 2017/18 is $56M. Twenty percent matching contribution from City should be $11.2M. Additional Federal/Provincial funds have been promised for 2018/19 and 2019/20.
The only new contribution from the City in the 2018 operating budget is Phase 1 of a capital project, Anishawabe Child Care ($2M). Despite a Council-approved direction to match contributions from other levels of government with 20% City funds, the budget only proposes phasing in the City’s 20% remaining contribution over three years ending in 2020, when this project is complete.
What is most extraordinary about the budget is the shell game being played with provincial funding. Despite having 100% funding and approval by the Province, the budget has left many important initiatives in the so-called “new and enhanced, not-included” category. The most egregious examples of excluded, 100% funded services, are new fee subsidies and Child and Family Centres. The City has provincial funding to add 825 new subsidies. The City has assumed responsibility, funding and a signed agreement for Child and Family Centres transferred from the province effective January 1st. Neither of these programs have been included in the budget.
Toronto’s budget process is always complicated and overwhelming – but why consult parents, child care providers and others on a budget we know is fake? The shell-game contained in the child care budget, seems a cynical set-up for good-news announcement further along in the budget process — and a way to cover up the City’s failure to keep its commitment to Toronto parents.
Please tell the Mayor and Budget Committee you want them to keep their commitment to invest the promised 20% this year so that we can expand subsidies, reduce parent fees, increase spaces — and stop playing games with Toronto families and children.
Find out more at toronto.ca/budget2018. Register to speak or write to the Budget Committee next week at firstname.lastname@example.org
City Councillor Janet Davis
Ward 31 | Beaches-East York
416 392 – 4035