Toronto Mayor John Tory is urging Ontario's government to reverse what he calls “unilateral, retroactive” cuts to child-care funding, which he says will hurt families and strain the province's labour market.
Tory has sent a letter to each of the 11 Progressive Conservative MPPs who represent ridings in his city, asking them to request that Education Minister Lisa Thompson reverse the changes.
He says the cuts will result in a nearly $85-million reduction to the city's child-care budget and the cancellation of 6,166 subsidies for families who can't afford child care on their own.
The province told child-care centres in mid-April it would be shutting down a fund that helped operators cover increasing labour costs without passing on those costs to parents.
A memo from the government told operators that funding ended as of March 31, and any money that flowed to operators after that date would be “recovered.”
In a news release Saturday, Tory says the province's move will force more new parents to stay home, putting strain on the social safety net and the labour market.
“The PC MPPs elected in ridings here in our city did not seek or receive any mandate from voters to cut child care,” Tory said in the release.
“I will keep making the case and urging residents to tell their MPPs that these unilateral, retroactive cuts to child care will hurt families in the neighbourhoods they represent and threaten Toronto's prosperity.”
In a sample letter provided along with the release, Tory tells York Centre MPP Roman Baber that 1,075 subsidized child-care spaces in his riding are in jeopardy, with 597 children already on a waiting list for subsidies.
“I am asking you as a member of the government caucus to request that the minister of education reverse this decision, and restore funding to families in need of affordable, accessible child care,” Tory writes.
Neither Baber nor Thompson immediately responded to a request for comment.
When asked about the funding cancellation earlier this month, Thompson touted the government's recently announced child-care tax credit.
“When we take a look and drill down a little bit deeper, the supports for the parents that they need will still be in place,” she said.