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February 19, 2003
Federal budget barely enough to support two per cent of children waiting for child care in Toronto
  
The Government of Canada's announcement of a national child care plan in
today's federal budget will barely recover the service lost to 2,000 Toronto
children this year. With only $25 million for the entire country in 2003/2004,
only 267 children will be served in Toronto. This amounts to two per cent of
the 15,000 children waiting for child care now.

"This budget will only benefit children in Ontario if Finance Minister John
Manley insists on attaching strings to the federal investment to child care.
Without a clear accountability mechanism, the funding will never reach the
children of Toronto," Councillor Olivia Chow, Chair of Toronto's Community
Services Committee and Toronto's Children Advocate, said today after the budget
announcement.

This new announcement may go the same route as the last budget announcement of
up to $500 million per year for Early Childhood Development Initiatives (ECDI).
None of that money went to support child care services anywhere in Ontario. In
fact, figures cited by the Minister of Community, Family and Children's
Services indicate that $113 million remains unallocated after the first two
years of ECDI operation. Ontario, so far, is unwilling to participate in the
plan to increase licensed child care services.

Chow emphasized that the announcement of a national child care plan does not
answer Toronto's immediate child care funding requirements.

Last year, 1,616 children lost their child care services in Toronto. This year,
1,816 children will lose their services and another 500 children may also get
their services cut in the months ahead.

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, while
the waiting list for space grows by 500 children a month.

Chow points out that $18.6 million are needed immediately to help reverse the
damage.

"Toronto's need is urgent," said Chow. "New funding is necessary to prevent
further service erosion as a result of provincial cuts. Even if the entire
amount were transferred to the children of Toronto directly, it would only
serve 267 children next year. All that could change if the Province invests
$113 million of unspent money immediately on child care."


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