More federal, provincial funding needed to boost child care spaces in Toronto: report
Published Tuesday, November 28, 2023 1:58PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 28, 2023 2:11PM EST
In order to add tens of thousands of new daycare spaces in the city amid increasing demand for child care, Toronto will need an influx of cash from other orders of government, a new report to the city’s economic development committee says.
In the report, which was discussed during a meeting today, the general manger of the city’s Children’s Services department said the city set a target back in 2017 to create 30,000 new child care spaces by the end of 2026 for a total of 70,000 spaces.
But the city appears to be a far cry from reaching that goal.
According to the report, which covers progress made on the city’s Growth Strategy between 2017 and 2022, only 4,598 new spaces were added over that five-year period. In 2017, the city had an total of 36,437 licensed spaces for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the centre-based child care system. At the end of 2022, that number increased to 41,035.
“Continued investments from Provincial and Federal governments are needed to ensure successful expansion of the sector,” the report states.
Child care fees are being incrementally reduced across the country as part of the of the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care System, which aims to bring fees down to an average of $10 per day by 2026.
“The vision of the Growth Strategy was to create 30,000 more licensed spaces… to serve 50 per cent of children aged 0-4 in Toronto by 2026,” the report states.
“This was informed by research conducted to develop the growth strategy, which confirmed that reductions in child care fees lead to increases in demand and create a need for more spaces in the system.”
The report says that since 2017, the federal and provincial governments have invested about $15.1 million in capital funding to support growth in child care spaces in Toronto, compared to $26.6 million contributed by the city.
Those combined investments resulted in the development of 1,907 spaces since 2017, the report continues. Another 860 spaces were created in school-based child-care centres, which are directly funded by the Ministry of Education.
The report said there are about 8,455 additional spaces in development in “various stages of planning, design, and construction.” These spaces will be funded in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the city, and through contributions from developers.
According to the report, no further details have been released about the federal government’s $625 million infrastructure fund announced in June to help cover capital costs associated with public and not-for-profit child care centres.
“While federal investment in capital is welcome, Toronto’s capital needs alone exceed the total amount of the Fund. Children's Services estimates that an incremental capital investment of $850 million is required to meet Toronto's expansion targets under the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.”
The report also notes that successful expansion of the child care sector requires a “thriving workforce.”
“A provincial workforce strategy that supports recruitment and retention for all staff in the early years and child care sector is critical and necessary for current and future expansion of a high quality child care system,” the report states.
The report adds that the province should to develop a workforce strategy for the sector that “includes an investment to increase wages and benefits to levels comparable to positions in the public sector.”
It also asks that city council request the federal and provincial governments consult with the city and “provide capital funding to reflect the regional costs of developing child care spaces in Toronto.”