On the morning of the (now cancelled) Women in Toronto Debate, Ari Goldkind releases his childcare policy/position:
Continuing his ascent as the most progressive and fastest-rising candidate in the Toronto mayoral race, Ari Goldkind is proud to release a practical, affordable and caring plan to help Toronto’s children grow and thrive.
“There is only enough space in licensed childcare centres for approximately 20% of children in Toronto under the age of five” says Goldkind. “That’s a shocking statistic for a relatively wealthy city, and it only scratches the surface of the problems we need to address. Without subsidies, licensed child care can take up as much as 50% of the income of a family with two young children, and the waiting lists for subsidized care are both long and bureaucratically daunting. My plan will quickly and dramatically improve what I believe to be a genuine emergency situation in our city.
If there is one issue on which we need to take the long view rather than having our thinking paralyzed by the tripping over dollars to pick up dimes mentality, ensuring care for our children is it. The neoconservative notion that low-income parents should be expected to stay home to care for their kids, in a city where the cost of living is rising while real incomes are not, quite honestly disgusts me. Especially when you consider that it ends up costing the city tens of millions of dollars paying social assistance benefits to people who can’t work because they can’t access childcare.
I will work to increase Toronto’s overall investment in childcare and kids’ health by $30-$40 million annually. The money will a priority expenditure from my ‘fifty cents a day’ property tax-based plan, which raises 1 billion dollars over my first term, with additional funding coming from community business support, sponsorship and supplies & food donations, voluntary user fees and negotiating tax credit increases with various levels of governments. I believe this investment will realize returns many times over through the socioeconomic benefits of kids who grow up into thriving adults.”
Implementing $10 per day childcare for children from low-income families under the age of 10 by 2017
“They started at $5 a day, and the province of Quebec which is much less wealthy than our city now guarantees childcare for $7 per day. I believe Toronto can certain afford to do this for $10 a day, with a certain percentage of free or discounted space for people on Ontario Works or ODSP who are looking for work, or who make less than a living wage of $16 an hour. More importantly I don’t think we can afford not to.
There is a great deal of underutilized space, especially in schools, all across the city that could be used at a very reasonable cost. We have a tremendous pool of qualified early childhood educators, who quite frankly are incredibly undervalued and underpaid. If we ask parents for this manageable cost and creatively engage businesses with incentives to contribute so their employees can afford to live on their salaries or wages, this idea can pay for itself. I will take the time to build this program so it’s sustainable and regulated to the extent it must be to ensure quality care. But I will make sure that it happens.”
School breakfasts and nutrition programs in every school located in priority neighbourhoods
“I know that conservatives will scream ‘nanny state’ about this. But thousands of kids in our city going to school hungry or under-nourished while thousands of pounds of food get wasted every day in our city is a reality I cannot accept. Children who live in that reality cannot enjoy a positive educational experience, and we know what happens from there. Every single day, I work with adults who spend most of their lives in and out of the correctional system because of that root cause and/or mental health issues that have a cause-and-effect relationship to poverty. Those long-term costs are a great deal higher than making sure a child has at least one nutritious meal every day before they start school. I strongly believe that food producers, companies, community organizations like Second Harvest and even parents who have the resources and kindness to contribute can be united to in building this initiative. And if people think it’s intrusive to educate our kids about nutrition and do what we can to make sure kids are not either hungry or disruptive in school because of low-quality food, I’m willing to fight that battle. This is an issue far bigger than municipal government, but I will make sure the city does its part.”
Voluntary recreational program user fees and expansion of after-school learning & recreation activities:
“If we can afford to eliminate a $60 vehicle registration fee in a terribly congested city while asking ttc users to pay more and more for Metropasses, and spend ten figures every year on police, we cannot morally afford not to make city program user fees voluntary in a city where 30% of kids live below the poverty line. Period.
I believe that many parents who can afford to pay five, twenty or fifty dollars a month on a voluntary basis will do so. It is in their own and their children’s community interests to do this. This is also something we can work with other levels of government towards in terms of leveraging tax credits which already exist such as the federal childcare and tax credit.
The same is true of finding the space and equipment to expand learning & recreation programs for youth. For example, we can get refurbished computer equipment at next to no cost. We can engage parents who are qualified and interested in recreational supervision and have a few hours a month of time they can devote. This already happens, absolutely, but I think the city can spearhead efforts to make it happen on a wider scale so that there is real access to affordable recreation and learning programs outside the school system for more kids. All kids need to have fun is space, safety, a few simple things and each other.”
Creation of a Toronto KidsCorps for high school and post-secondary students:
“The province already mandates volunteering for students. And I don’t think there’s any better opportunity we can offer older kids than the chance to give back in this basic, fundamental way. To value and see their community differently. As bigger than just themselves and their family/siblings. This idea would also provide invaluable leadership experience for older kids that has a tangible positive effect on their success as adults and someday, as parents themselves.”
Addressing the problem of childcare deserts:
“I’ve talked since the beginning of my campaign about how Toronto is or is becoming a city with two halves. A city of haves, and a city of have nots. Under a Goldkind administration, we will begin to make a dent in this growing divide.”
I’ve talked about food and cultural deserts, and I know the same dynamic is true with respect to childcare. People who live in areas where childcare is far-flung and hard to get to by public transit are forced to spend a good chunk of their day getting their kids to and from daycare at a huge cost to how much quality time they can spend with their families. All of the ideas I’ve outlined above will be guided by the principle of focusing on these neighbourhoods first.
Childcare is about so much more than babysitting,” Goldkind continues. “It’s a huge factor in the city’s overall economic picture, and a bona fide public health issue. As a single man and busy professional who doesn’t have kids, I don’t have any direct personal experience here, so it is an area in which I will work with experts and civic-minded residents to grow my own understanding and learn how we can best accomplish what I know is the right thing to do.
Investing in our children in a community-focused way is arguably the biggest moral imperative for any city government, and it will be a core priority for me as the mayor of Toronto.
Olivia Chow’s plan to create 3,000 new spaces with 1,500 subsidies is well-intentioned and she’s the only other candidate who’s even released a childcare platform, but this commitment quite possibly won’t even cover the childcare needs created by new families arriving in Toronto on a yearly basis. My plan will make childcare, in a variety of contexts from full daycare to recreation, accessible to tens of thousands more kids, by focusing not only on funding but by better engaging people and community resources. This is a truly progressive and holistic approach to improving the quality of life for Toronto kids.”
To reach Ari Goldkind today for comment: