Single parent families in Toronto struggle to work in order to make a living for their families. They also struggle to find affordable childcare for their kids in order to be able to work at all.
Anna Lazo is a single mother of four, whose kids were placed on the subsidy wait list before they received a subsidized spot for childcare.
Her daughter was placed on the list for 10 years, at which point, she was old enough not to need it.
“The waiting list is unrealistically long,” Lazo said. “It is very frustrating.”
Toronto mayoralty candidate Olivia Chow’s $15 million pledge towards childcare in Toronto on Tuesday has brought the issue in to the spotlight.
“I am voting for Olivia Chow,” said Andrea Brow, head of the Parent Board for Rejoyce Childcare Centre. “Its nice that she supports childcare, it’s so important.”
Now Lazo’s younger two children, Jessey, 7, and Dulce, 5, need subsidized childcare. Dulce got a spot immediately, while Jessey was put on a waiting list for a year and a half.
“I had to pay the daycare to take care of my daughter as well a nanny to take care of my son,” Lazo said. “When it is siblings they shouldn’t do that.”
Chow has said she would put $15 million of the city’s budget towards childcare, which she said will add about 700 new subsidized and open new childcare locations.
Childcare rates in Toronto are at an average of $10,000 to $20,000 a year according to the Toronto Star.
There are about 20,000 children placed on the subsidy wait list to be able to find affordable childcare according to the Toronto Star.
Ward 13 Coun. Sarah Doucette said she agrees with Chow’s pledge, but believes the provincial government needs to also play a role in the budgeting towards childcare in the city.
“I think whoever is mayor should make childcare of their priorities,” Doucette said. “We don’t necessarily have all the money to put in but we should force the provincial government to put more money in.”
“It’s got to be a continuation of money,” Doucette added. “You can’t just give money one year and take it away the next.”
Chow says if elected, she will ask for an additional $20,000 from provincial funding that will be put towards childcare if she is elected as mayor and said that will mean 3000 more childcare spaces and 1,500 new subsidized spots in total.
Coun. Doucette believes opening up new centers in needy areas is going to benefit the city as well as creating new subsidized spots.
“One of the locations I heard closed down was in a Toronto Community Housing Building,” Doucette said. “Even though Children’s Services were very good and were able to find new accommodations for these children, some of the parents don’t drive and therefore it got harder for them to get their child to the childcare.”
Debbie Wilson, the manager of George Brown’s Scotiabank Plaza Childcare Center, said Chow’s pledge is good news and that means many parents of children at her centre on the subsidy waiting list will be relieved.
“This is going to open up so many doors for families to be able to go to good quality regulated childcare centers,” Wilson added.
Both Doucette and Wilson say the silence from mayoralty candidates John Tory and Doug Ford on childcare is disappointing.
“John Tory is a business man and he looks more to supporting businesses than he does to looking towards families and what childcare would mean to them,” Wilson said.
“I think it’s a shame that John Tory and Doug Ford are quite on childcare,” said Doucette. “I think parents, definitely in my ward, that is one of their main concerns.”