Parents sound alarm over west end Toronto daycare closure, lack of access to childcare

The scramble is underway after a Toronto daycare facility announced it’s closing at the end of July. Shauna Hunt with the calls for help as the childcare waitlists hit the two-year mark.

Some west-end Toronto parents say they have been left scrambling and are appealing for help after getting news that a decades-old daycare in their area is shutting down.

Parents whose children attend Carmelite Day Nursery, near Dundas Street West and Ossington Avenue, say the wait lists for other facilities in the area are as long as two years. The daycare sent an email to parents revealing it will be closing this year after being in operation for nearly 100 years.

“With the news of this closure in six months’ time, I am stressed and worried about what I will do as a single parent,” says Kristen, one of the parents who spoke at Friday morning news conference. “I am currently on 20 wait lists, and the message I’m receiving is that they have no space and no idea when my child will be admitted.”

The news conference was attended by several parents who say they began calling around to other facilities, with some on wait lists for daycares as far away as other cities in the GTA.

“Carmelite is way more than a daycare. It’s our community,” says Laura, another parent who spoke on Friday morning. “It’s a place where the staff are kind and caring. As a working mom, when I went back to work knowing this, I went back guilt-free.”

One parent told CityNews they were considering taking a leave from work, feeling they have no other option with no space available for their child.

The facility’s planned closure at the end of July will impact approximately 175 families.

NDP calling on Ford government to step in

Daycare operators say the national affordable daycare program isn’t working, saying the funding only allows them to squeak by.

The NDP is calling on the province to step in and revise the funding to create more affordable daycare spaces as soon as possible.

“We want the Ford government to step in and work with local school boards and local daycare operators to expand childcare spots in this neighbourhood,” says NDP MPP Jessica Bell.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education tells CityNews the province has “full confidence” that the city will develop a contingency plan to support affected families.

“We will continue to ensure we are lowering fees for parents and building new childcare spaces,” said spokesperson Isha Chaudhuri. “In Toronto, we have created 9,000 new spaces, and we are committed to building 18,000 net new affordable childcare spaces for Toronto families by 2026.”

The City of Toronto says it is working closely with community partners and agencies to explore alternative child care options for the families affected.

“The City is committed to expanding child care spaces to ensure that accessible and high-quality child care is available and will actively work with new operators who are interested in creating new or additional spaces within the community,” Shanley McNamee, General Manager of Children Services said in a statement to CityNews.

Earlier this week, another west end Toronto daycare revealed it was pulling out of the national $10-a-day program, saying the funding model has saddled the centre with unsustainable levels of debt, leaving families scrambling to either find other care, absorb an $800 monthly increase to their budgets or leave the workforce.

Parents at Ola Daycare, near Roncesvalles Avenue and Dundas, get just 30 days to pull their kids out of that centre with no financial penalty, ahead of fees going up to $1,433.25 a month for preschoolers as of March 1.

The YMCA and others are pushing for a “full cost recovery model” to fund the true cost of providing child care rather than just replacing a percentage of the parent fees.

With files from The Canadian Press

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