Toronto mothers struggling to pay for childcare spoke out at city hall on Tuesday, as councillors warned this year's proposed budget could make it even more expensive to raise a child in the city.
Charlotte Genoa waited months to get a childcare subsidy from the city, and said nearly all of her earnings still go toward paying for daycare and rent.
"Talk to any mom in Toronto at the end of her [maternity] leave, and their number one stress is childcare — besides the baby, of course," she said, as her daughter played with the podium microphone.
"People cannot afford almost $2,000 a month in daycare. It's not an option. It doesn't matter how much money you make," Genoa said, adding the fees are so high she's had to consider either leaving her job, or leaving Toronto.
Akio Maroon, another mom struggling to find a daycare space for her daughter, warned that the high costs may even prevent women from fleeing domestic violence.
"Women are having to face the reality of providing for their family on a miniscule budget," she said.
Parents in this city pay the highest childcare prices in Canada, a recent Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study found. The median costs per child are $1,649 per month for infants, $1,375 a month for toddlers and $1,150 a month to take care of preschoolers.
"This budget does not address the childcare crisis," said Coun. Janet Davis.
Davis said she's worried parents will end up paying between $300 and $600 more per year on childcare if the budget goes ahead as it is now.
Instead, she wants the budget committee, which is set to meet on Thursday, to invest millions more in childcare — though she didn't propose where the money for that would come from.
Davis also urged the budget committee to back away from a proposal that would eliminate the annual $4.1 million in occupancy costs paid to local school boards that have daycares in their buildings. School board trustees have already pointed out those daycares would likely pass the increased costs on to parents.
City must spend money 'wisely,' mayor says
Mayor John Tory's office issued a statement saying he is committed to making sure the city is affordable for its residents.
"We have to pay for the services we deliver like student nutrition, childcare and recreation programs," Tory's statement said, adding the city has invested $100 million to fight poverty.
"Every service we provide is important, but we still need to make sure we're spending money wisely and in the best interest of the people of Toronto."
The city has to find some $91 million in savings to balance the budget, which it is required to do under provincial law.
City council is set to debate the budget in February.
-reprinted from CBC News