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Ontario could lose six municipal child care centres by next year: Study [CA-ON]

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Livingston, Gillian
Publication Date: 
27 Apr 2004

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Up to six municipal child-care centres could close in the next 18 months because Ontario is not funding its fair share of regulated spaces, says a report by the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.

The report indicated that municipal centres in Stratford, Kenora, Sudbury and Saint Mary's are on the chopping block. Since the report has been completed, the coalition has discovered a municipal centre in Owen Sound will close in five months, while one in Hanover will be shut in 14 months.

The report surveyed 12 municipal services managers and two district social service administration boards to determine the status of their municipal child-care centres.

Ten of the 12 services' managers said they're paying more than the 20 per cent share of child-care costs outlined in the provincial-municipal cost-sharing deal. The province is supposed to pick up the remaining 80 per cent for regulated municipal child care.

As a result, municipalities are picking up the extra costs and the survey showed "municipalities cannot continue to do this" because of financial constraints, Bird said.

The report recommends the province return to the 80-20 per cent cost-sharing split and ensure that $58 million in federal funds for child care for 2004-2005 gets to municipalities quickly.

It suggests the government spend most of the $192 million from the federal early childhood development initiative for 2004-2005 on regulated municipal child care.

The report also calls on the Ontario government to restore the $160 million cut from the regulated child-care budget since 1995.

Children's Minister Marie Boutrogianni said earlier this year that the province will get thousands more child-care spaces over the next several years as $352 million in new federal funding flows to the province.

So far this year, the first instalment of $9.7 million from the funds has been allocated to the province's non-profit, regulated child-care centres, to fix buildings and buy equipment.

- reprinted from the Canadian Press