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Provincial child-care cuts will hurt families, Tory says in letters to Toronto PC MPPs

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Letters spell out the number of child-care spaces at risk in 11 PC-held ridings
Publication Date: 
12 May 2019
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Mayor John Tory sent letters to Toronto's 11 Progressive Conservative MPPs outlining how the province's cuts to child-care funding could hurt families in their ridings.

The letters, which were sent Friday, specify the number of subsidized child-care spaces at risk of being curtailed or cancelled and the number of children on the wait list for a city-funded subsidy in each PC-held riding in the city.

Tory calls the cuts unilateral and retroactive and notes that they were made without any consultation with Toronto officials. 

"The PC MPPs elected in ridings here in our city did not seek or receive any mandate from voters to cut child care," Tory said in a news release on Saturday.

"I will keep making the case and urging residents to tell their MPPs that these unilateral, retroactive cuts to child care will hurt families in the neighbourhoods they represent and threaten Toronto's prosperity."

The city says that provincial cuts jeopardize 6,166 child-care subsidies for families who depend on this service due to an $84.4 million funding shortfall in Toronto's 2019 child-care budget.

The city's numbers show 31,979 children currently receive a child-care fee subsidy.

'Accessible child care is essential,' Tory writes

In the letters, Tory notes that the provincial cuts to child care will make it difficult for parents to work outside of the home.

"Affordable and accessible child care is essential to help parents re-enter the workforce and stimulate the economy," he said.

"Without quality child care that all citizens can afford, more new mothers and fathers will be forced to stay at home, depend on social assistance and strain the labour market."

Education Minister Lisa Thompson has said that municipalities affected by the cuts should find money through administrative "efficiencies."

"We're encouraging the administrations at municipalities or within municipalities around the province to take a look at how they're administering the programs and for goodness sakes do not leave any child-care space on the table," Thompson has said.

Tory said he has repeatedly offered to have city officials meet with provincial officials to discuss "our shared responsibility" for child care. The offer still stands, he added.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Tory explained his decision to send the letters, saying most Toronto PC MPPs were new to politics when they were elected nearly a year ago.

Tory said none of them had a mandate to cut child care spaces.

"There are some very good people, but I think they're politically aware enough to know none of them got elected on a platform of cutting childcare, cutting public health, cutting student nutrition," Tory said.

"We're just saying, look, your people need these programs, the people you represent. And please speak up inside your government and make sure that some finance department bureaucrat that thinks that student nutrition programs can be cut just like that understands that's not true."

Meanwhile, Stan Cho, MPP for Willowdale, said the mayor can write as many letters as he sees fit but he thinks it would be more productive to sit down and talk things through.

Cho claimed people should not be too concerned about the apparent animosity between the city and the province.

"We're in this together and we have to fix the problems we have in our city and the province collectively," Cho told CBC Toronto.

"What we should be worried about first and foremost is the unbelievable debt. It's really worrisome that the fourth largest expenditure at Queen's Park is interest on that debt."

Tensions are high, says former city official

Amanda Galbraith, principal for the public relations firm Navigator and a former city official with Tory's office, said the letters make for "some interesting political theatre" and show that the tensions are high.

She said the letters, which have turned the fight into a public one instead of one behind the scenes, are not in keeping with Tory's usual style.

"I think, at the end of the day, cooler heads will prevail."

Galbraith pointed out that Tory is a "wildly popular" mayor and the province cannot ignore that fact.

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Entered Date: 
15 May 2019
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