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May 13, 2002
City responds to Report of the Early Learning and Child Care Commission
"Child care is central to the network of services supporting children and their
families in Toronto. The City is pleased that the Early Learning and Child Care
Commission recognizes the importance of child care in its recommendations, "
Councillor Olivia Chow, the City of Toronto's Children and Youth Advocate said
today. "Families needing child care services in Toronto will benefit greatly if
the Commission's recommendations are implemented."

The City will send the Commission's report, which was released today, to City
Council, through the Children and Youth Action Committee.

Parents in Toronto paid more than $17 million in fees in 2001 towards the
City's child care system. In June 2001, the City endorsed the Children and
Youth Advocate's and the community's initiative to establish the Early Learning
and Child Care Commission, when other senior levels of government bypassed
municipal expertise in managing and planning children's services. The
Commission's task was to develop a communications plan to influence national
and provincial policy and funding support for child care and early learning and

The City acknowledges that Toronto cannot preserve, let alone improve and
expand child care on its own. Recommendations in the Commission's report
recognize this and are aimed at all key stakeholders - the federal and
provincial governments and the private sector.

The City welcomes the Commission's recommendations that:

· The federal government, where necessary, provide support directly to cities
that, like Toronto, implement a comprehensive approach to child care as central
to a children's services continuum; and direct the provinces to spend federal
Early Development Initiative (EDI) funds in all four target policy areas,
including child care, which falls within the early childhood development,
learning and care target area.

· The provincial government establish community-based early childhood
development centres, which would include child care in a continuum of services,
and direct federal EDI funding to municipalities to expand child care.

· Business recognize the fundamental importance of early learning and care
programs, such as child care; additionally, that employers establish
family-friendly workplaces.

The Province, in theory, pays 80 per cent of the costs of child care. However,
provincial funding has decreased by $11.8 million since 1999. At the same time,
the City has over 15,000 children waiting for a subsidized child care space.
Consequently, the City is left with a shortfall and is paying more than its 20
per cent share of the 80 per cent (Ontario)/20 per cent (Toronto) cost-sharing
agreement. The City wants the Province to bring its level of funding up to at
least a true 80 per cent of child care costs. Existing funding levels are not
enough for the City to maintain current service levels.

Toronto can respond positively to the recommendations in the report directed at
the City. Through the City's Social Development Strategy, its Children's
Strategy and Children's Charter, Toronto recognizes that human services are as
much a part of civic infrastructure as roads and sewers.

Leading by example, the City has allocated $3 million to Toronto First Duty,
the pilot project referred to in the Commission's report that is part of
Toronto's Children's Strategy. The First Duty sites are concrete examples of
integrated children's services with licensed child care at the core. The City
encourages the provincial and federal governments to come forward with
resources and as partners to allow the City to further expand these programs.

Toronto's Children's Report Card and service plan are based on community
outcomes identified through research and direct the City to spend funds on
children's services based on community need. The City has a strong research
relationship in the area of early learning and child care with Ryerson
University and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University
of Toronto.

The Atkinson Charitable Foundation and the Laidlaw Foundation provided funding
for the Early Learning and Child Care Commission. As a support to the
Commission's work, the City funded a study by the Canadian Policy Research
Network on how intergovernmental relations can respond to children's needs.

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