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March 4, 2003
Toronto, community partners challenge Ontario to deliver 'new deal' for child care
  
A distinguished group of community leaders has joined with the City of Toronto
to urge Premier Ernie Eves to deliver a new deal for child care in Toronto that
will meet the needs of children and families. Councillor Olivia Chow, Chair of
Toronto's Community Services Committee launched a public campaign to build
support for increased provincial investment in licensed child care at a news
conference today at Queen's Park.

"If Ontario is serious about its promise of a 'new deal' for municipal
governments, it should start with the needs of children and immediately address
its chronic underfunding of Toronto's child care system," said Chow. "We urge
the Premier to end the government's 'ABC policy - anything but child care' - in
allocating available federal funds to child care and help stop service
erosion."

Toronto has urged Ontario to use funds from the federal Early Childhood
Development Initiative (ECDI) to support child care, as every other province
has done. Figures cited by the Minister of Community, Family and Children's
Services indicate that $113 million is unallocated and available after the
first two years of ECDI operation.

Toronto has requested $18.6 million in support using ECDI funds to stop service
erosion. It is also urging Ontario to participate in the new national child
care plan announced in the recent federal budget.

"Our services are at risk and ECDI funds are readily available at no cost to
the provincial treasury," said Chow. "There is no reason for Ontario to hold
back the funding so that child care continues to be available to Toronto
families while helping to stabilize services and restore lost spaces."

Councillor Chow and representatives from education, business and social service
groups met at Queen's Park today to challenge Ontario to meet its promise of
more financial support for municipal governments. They signed an open letter to
Premier Eves that will appear in Toronto newspapers over the next week. The
open letter will also form the basis of an organizing drive to save child care
in Toronto.

"Quality child care is an essential social and educational service for families
that enriches early childhood development and learning, as well as providing
care to children," said Campaign 2000 Co-Chair June Callwood. "The Ontario
government must be a full partner in a new deal with Toronto to participate in
strengthening child care instead of contributing to its decline."

Since 1999, Ontario has cut its annual base funding for Toronto's child care
program by $11.8 million. As a result, Toronto is at its lowest level of
subsidized spaces since 1992. No new spaces have been created since 1997 and
1,616 subsidized spaces have been cut in 2002. Without increased provincial
support, another 700 subsidized spaces will be cut this year. Thousands of
families are waiting for subsidized care.

"Child care is important to our economy because it enables parents to work or
learn and train while helping to prepare our children for a better future,"
said Charles Coffey, a prominent banking executive and children's advocate. "I
urge Premier Eves to make the wise investments in child care today to put child
care on a sound footing and ensure the competitiveness of our workforce and our
economy in the future."

"The federal government and its funding are on-side; unspent ECDI funds are
available for child care and can be directed towards strengthening Toronto's
child care system if the Premier agrees to participate in a new deal for
Toronto's kids," said Chow. "The ability of parents to work on a sustained
basis and the quality of early childhood development in Toronto will be
adversely affected if we do not get a new deal from the Ontario government."

Toronto's position paper on provincial government funding of child care,
Preserving Child Care in Toronto: The Case for New Ontario Government Funding,
is available at www.torontochildren.com


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