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Peel Region votes to close 12 daycare centres

Officials in Peel Region have voted to close a dozen municipally-funded childcare centres.

The move means approximately 800 subsidized child care spaces will be phased out over a two-year period. The vote passed 16 to 5.

The decision affects 126 regular and 117 casual and contract staff and saves the region $12 million — money that would then be redirected to help families pay for spots in non-profit and private centres.

“This was a bold move and a difficult decision,” Peel Coun.Elaine Moore said in a release.

But parent Mary Farrugia, who waited three years to get her daughter into one of only 16 evening care spots, was upset.

“We are single working mothers trying to earn a living to raise our families. We do not hold traditional jobs. We need this care,” she said. 

Some parents held a protest outside Peel Region headquarters on Peel Centre Drive in Brampton on Thursday morning ahead of the afternoon vote.

A recent three-year study on the effects of the province’s all-day kindergarten program proposed cutting the Learn. Play. Care child care spaces. That report was crafted by consultant KPMG, the same company contracted by the City of Toronto to find budget savings in the summer of 2011.

Peel councillors then created a task force to study the issue further. It agreed with the staff report but recommended phasing spaces out over a two-year period.

A spokeswoman for the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care issued a warning to local politicians on Wednesday.

“We will not vote for anyone who votes to close Peel child care. Parents know how hard it is to find good child care. The region says they have studied the issue but the Task Force never looked at our individual centres,” Andrea Calver said.

“Councillors should reject the motion. If they don’t, we will campaign against them in the next election.”

The coalition says the 12 centres represent 11 per cent of Peel’s total subsidized child care for toddlers and preschoolers.