Arguing that Toronto is running out of money to pay for daycare spots, the mayor's office has set up a task force to hunt for "alternative sources of funding" and find solutions to the growing demands for affordable child care.
Rob Ford picked Giorgio Mammoliti, chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee, to head up the new body - one of three announced on Tuesday.
The task force will look for new revenue streams to sustain existing spots and reduce waiting lists for child care, and is scheduled to report to the mayor this fall.
Mr. Ford said years of funding reductions from other levels of government have jeopardized the viability of the city's child-care system.
"The city does provide some child-care spaces, but other levels of government have either reduced their support or taken it away entirely," he said. "This task force will look into what can be done to make child care sustainable in Toronto."
Toronto has been using a reserve fund to pay for subsidized spots, the terms of reference for the task force states. "That fund is now depleted and the city's ability to continue providing these subsidies, without a new funding source, is in jeopardy," it says.
Mr. Mammoliti predicted that all the money will be gone by 2013 and the city must find a solution before then.
The cost of the majority of subsidized spots is shared, with the province picking up 80 per cent and the city covering the rest. In addition, there are about 2,000 spots which the city pays for entirely, and 700 more are expected to be added next year, the councillor said.
"We are sick and tired of having to dole out the money," he said, for spots the city believes the province should be financing. "We may be in a position to say to them: take it back. You deal with it because we can't afford to deal with it any more."
Veteran councillor Janet Davis said more responsibility for child care could end up being handed to the private sector.
"We don't need to be looking at private-sector alternatives or contracting out or poorer-quality forms of child care - all those forms of child care have been explored over the decades," she said. "It's been demonstrated across the world that for-profit child care is of poorer quality."
With a report from Patrick White