On Tuesday, February 7th — around 30 children (and their guardians) descended on City Hall to participate in a “Play-In” to protest Mayor John Tory’s cuts to child care and recreation in the proposed City budget. The event was co-hosted by the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, Toronto Women’s City Alliance, Social Planning Toronto and CUPE. Local 79 Recreation Workers Part-Time Unit Officer Alexandra Pinosa spoke at the event, telling reporters that waitlist for recreation programs have grown 64% to over 189,000 people. “We aren’t meeting the community demand,” Alexandra said. “Instead of increasing programs, this budget proposes cutting 111 positions – potential instructors for new programs.”
With news of the action and pressure from community groups, Mayor Tory announced on Monday that he would reverse proposed cuts to grants that are given to school boards to help them run child care programs. That’s a great victory, but the fact remains that child care in Toronto is woefully underfunded. In a city where one in every four children live in poverty, something has to be done about the 17,724 children on the wait list for a child care subsidy. Toronto’s fallen behind; a recent staff report said we need 5,000 new subsidies to restore the proportion of subsidies to 2010 levels.