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E-BLAST: $10-A-Day Isn’t the End, It’s Just the Beginning

The long, long problem of affordable child care is finally solved. The constant challenges of affordability for parents, living wages for early childhood educators, and supply of nearby spaces have all been overcome. Oops, early April Fools!


To hear the Prime Minister and Premier describe it, you would think that we closed the book on child care in our country when Ontario finally put the last provincial signature on the National Child Care Strategy after months of delay. As my grandson likes to say, “Psyche!” The devil is always in the details when governments collaborate, and there’s still much heavy lifting to be done to ensure that $10-a-day child care becomes truly accessible to all. Don’t get me wrong—this is a huge victory for Toronto families, but that doesn’t mean the work is done.

The Federal Government is providing an enormous amount of money to each province, over $10 billion in Ontario alone, in exchange for the provincial delivery of child care systems that will guarantee parents pay no more than $10 per day by 2025. I’ve been fighting for a better child care system here in Ontario for a long time, and I am genuinely happy to see our province sign on to a program that will radically change our country for the better.


All the way back in 2013, I opened a Twitter account called @10dollardaycare to whip up a movement around this important issue. I had recently gotten my hands on a report outlining the financial details of Quebec’s child care system, which at the time cost parents a mere $7 per day. I reasoned that with a few tweaks and ways to create more spaces, we could make this work in Ontario. Unfortunately, the movement didn’t get very far at that time. Toronto parents were on their way to paying the current rate of $2000 a month per child, spaces were beyond short, and no one thought $10-a-day was possible.

The economic and social case for affordable child care was strong when I tweeted this in 2013, and it's even stronger today.


Since 2013, some progress has been made on the number of child care spaces and subsidies in Ontario. The Kathleen Wynne government increased child care funding, and paired with some funds from the City of Toronto we were able to open new centres across the city. The development community was even required to contribute in some cases, like in Parkway Forest. Soon, Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ Community Centre will include another developer-funded child care space. However, there’s still a massive waitlist for subsidized child care and it puts enormous burden on families.


The current Federal Government had promised to take steps towards a national child care strategy back in 2015, but with entrenched systems so varied from province to province it needed the perfect tipping point to open the door to change. Finance Minister and working mom Chrystia Freeland recognized the pandemic as that tipping point: Centres were locked down, the fee structure was collapsing, and the Federal Government suddenly had to provide funds to keep centres afloat. Minister Freeland tasked Finance staff with figuring out how to transition the emergency funding into a permanent program that would change the way child care is offered in our country. She announced her plan in April 2021.

I also harkened back to my 2013 child care advocacy last April, when Minister Freeland announced the $10-a-day child care plan.


On Monday morning, after months of delay, Doug Ford became the last premier to sign on to the Federal $10-a-day plan. Outwardly, the Premier told us the delay was caused by negotiations for an extra year of funding. That’s not actually true, since the Prime Minister has already indicated that his government is setting up this child care system to stay in place for decades. However, let’s give the Premier some credit. Ontario has a complex child care system, with a combination of not-for-profit and for-profit centres across the province. I suspect the delay had to do with figuring out how to make the deal work within this tricky system.


You have likely read the promised changes in the newspaper. Parents will see a 25% reduction of fees as early as May and a 50% reduction by the end of the year. Child care workers will be guaranteed a minimum wage of $18/hour or $35,000/year. There will also be capital funding to create 56,000 new spaces by 2025.


This is where we start to see there’s still work to be done. A reduction in fees will create an increased demand for child care spaces, plain and simple. 56,000 new spaces over the next three years is actually fewer than the number of new spaces created in Ontario over the past three. We also know that a living wage in Ontario is $22/hour, and we need to offer a true living wage to attract more workers to support these much-needed spaces.


Even if Premier Ford delivers on all of his promises, there still won’t be enough child care available in Toronto to give every mom the chance to get back to work or school. There certainly won’t be enough if he falls short on any one of them. To truly be able to offer $10-a-day childcare to every family in Ontario, we’re going to need to up our game and create more spaces for our kids.

Here’s my promise: I will do everything it takes to make this deal work for Toronto families. I feel confident speaking for most of my Council colleagues and the Mayor when I say that we all want this deal to work. We have always spoken up for a National Child Care Strategy, and we know this is more necessary now than ever as we look to our post-pandemic economic recovery.


Our Children’s Services staff will report on this deal as soon as possible, as they still have no details on how the deal would work in Toronto. When we do get this report at the Economic and Community Development Committee on which I sit, I’ll pore over every word and roll up my sleeves to help.


To know how to make this system work best for families and child care operators here in Don Valley North, I need to hear from you. Let me know your initial thoughts on this deal. What questions and concerns do you have? What parts of child care service are the most important to you? Your own children or grandchildren may only need care for a few more years, but your feedback is invaluable in building a system that works for their children one day.


I’m excited about this $10-a-day deal, but let’s not view this as the end of the child care discussion. Let’s view it as the beginning, and work together to create a system that can truly support children and families for generations to come.

 

Planning & Development Updates

Upcoming Community Meetings

11 Greenbriar Road Community Consultation Meeting TONIGHT: Thursday, March 31, 2022 @ 7:00 PM City Planning staff will be hosting a virtual community meeting to hear from residents about the development application at 11 Greenbriar Road. The Preliminary Report initially proposed a four-storey building with 29 units, which has since been revised to the current proposal for a three-storey building with 20 units. Register for the community consultation at the link below:

RapidTO Phase 2 Public Meeting: North York

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 @ 6:30 PM


City staff have launched Phase 2 of the City's three-phase RapidTO consultations. During this phase, the project team is looking for feedback on the list of roadways to be prioritized for study, consultation and installation over the next 10 years. Register for the North York-specific community meeting below.

 

Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Parkway Forest Community Centre (55 Forest Manor Rd.)

North York General Hospital is running a vaccine clinic at Parkway Forest Community Centre every Wednesday in April from 4:30 - 7:30 PM. First, second, and third doses of Pfizer and Moderna are available, and all ages (5+) are welcome. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome while supplies last. For more information, visit the link below:

Oriole Community Centre (2975 Don Mills Rd. W.)

North York General Hospital is running a vaccine clinic at Oriole Community Centre every Wednesday (12:00 - 3:00 PM) and Thursday (4:00 - 7:30 PM) in April. First, second, and third doses of Pfizer and Moderna are available, and all ages (5+) are welcome. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome while supplies last. For more information, visit the link below:

 

Meet Rui Saude, our Don Valley Northerner of the Week! Rui is the community representative at the Sparroways. He is always looking out for his neighbours, and dedicates his time to managing a variety of programs. He runs the community food program, helps residents fix up their bicycles for free through the Bike Club, and has also helped facilitate a clothing program. Thank you Rui for all that you do for your community!


Nominate a Neighbour! Do you know someone in your neighbourhood who makes a difference? Someone who is committed to bettering their community and always there to help out their neighbours? Nominate them for Don Valley Northerner of the Week! To submit a nomination for Don Valley Northerner of the week, please send the following information about the person you are nominating to councillor_carroll@toronto.ca:

  • Name

  • A short blurb (~100 words) about why you are nominating them (how they support/contribute to the community, etc.)

I know so many of you help out your friends and neighbours in a number of ways, so please nominate anyone in your community who you feel makes a difference. My team will contact you if we select your nominee as Don Valley Northerner of the Week!

 

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