Daycare deal may create more portables: MPP

Roy Green, Staff Writer

08/04/05 00:00:00
Ontario's much-heralded new daycare plan may translate into more portables in York Region schools Oak Ridges Tory MPP Frank Klees said.

Last week's announcement of 25,000 new daycare spots in Ontario will mean about $20 million for new spaces in York Region over the next three years.

The province's Best Start program, announced last fall, calls for most of those spaces to be located in schools so junior and senior kindergarten students don't have to be transferred to another daycare facility once they've completed their half-day classes.

But schools here barely have enough room for classrooms, much less daycare space, Mr. Klees said this week.

"School boards in York, as a result of provincial caps on class sizes, already have a challenge finding enough room just for classrooms," he said. "There is going to be some tensions coming from this announcement; some parents are going to insist the boards increase the number of spaces when there isn't really any room. Whether this means the boards will have to resort to portables to accommodate daycare spaces; I hope that's not the case."

The crunch on classroom space means daycare isn't much of a priority right now, according to public board spokesperson Ross Virgo.

"For us, classroom space is crucial; we're trying to keep with the demand of new population in the region," Mr. Virgo said. "It's unlikely there will be any new (daycare) spaces in the immediate future."

The announcement of how Ontario would allocate $1.1 billion of federal daycare money over the next three years also means more money to subsidize needy parents, said Elizabeth Wagle, the region's director of family and children's services.

"We currently provide subsidies for about 2,700 children and, subject to council approval, expect to see that increase by about 40 per cent to 50 per cent," Ms. Wagle said.

But Mr. Klees said daycare funding should be going to parents, not school boards or regions.