Toronto is seeking parent input on child care challenges to help guide future city spending.
"The city's economic future relies on a workforce that is ready and able to contribute," said Councillor Janet Davis. "And child care is a fundamental prerequisite. It is also key to healthy child development."
At a time when more than three-quarters of mothers are working, there are licensed child care spaces for just 21 per cent of Toronto children under age 10, she noted.
More than 19,000 children are on the city's daycare fee subsidy waiting list.
"I think politicians at all levels should be listening to the needs of Toronto parents when it comes to child care," Davis said.
Davis and Councillor Anthony Peruzza, chair of the city's community development and recreation committee, are launching the Let's Talk Child Care campaign at city hall on Monday. It includes four "parent summits" across the city in November and an online survey.
The parent consultations are needed to guide city spending in the wake of recent provincial changes to child-care funding, Davis said. Instead of the long-standing 80-20 provincial-municipal funding split, Queen's Park is transferring its money in a lump sum, with fewer strings attached.
"We are going to be making some decisions around how we fund child care," said Davis (Ward 33, Beaches-East York). "We want to reach out to parents of Toronto to see what their challenges are and to see what their priorities are.
"Do we put more money into subsidies? Do we try to build more child care facilities? Should the city be spending more, to step beyond its traditional cost-sharing?" she said.
The summits are timely in light of two child deaths in unregulated home daycares last summer and instability in the child-care sector due to the loss of 4- and 5-year-olds to all-day kindergarten, she added.
"It's important that we hear from parents when there is so much critical happening in the sector," she said.
Meetings in the north and central part of the city will be held on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Meetings in the east and west end will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
For more information and to complete the online survey got to: toronto.ca/parentsummit beginning Monday.
-reprinted from the Toronto Star