Councillor Mike Del Grande

Cuts to breakfast program off Toronto budget table

  • December 13, 2011

TORONTO - Toronto’s budget chief says the city will be rethinking proposed cuts that some saw as a threat to the 685 nutrition programs at the city’s public and Catholic schools.

The committee is “rethinking everything,” Councillor Mike Del Grande told The Catholic Register.

And Councillor Doug Ford, in media interviews, reassured students and parents that kids “aren’t going to go hungry.”

Earlier, Catholic school trustee Maria Rizzo sounded the alarm bells that breakfast programs at 58 Catholic schools for about 7,000 students could get the budget axe. The city program, at a cost of $380,000, funds 685 student-nutrition programs at public and Catholic schools for a total of 14,000 children in low-income areas.

Del Grande said the reason for the rethinking on the cuts is that “it’s a very compelling argument with respect to hungry children.” Meanwhile, Rizzo said she was pleased with the reversal on the breakfast programs, but added there is still the issue of day care rental subsidies for those operating in public and Catholic schools which could be cut. This would mean a jump in annual fees by more than $500, according to child care advocates.

The TCDSB receives about $736,246 in child care rental payments from the city for 49 child care centres.

But Del Grande countered that the City of Toronto isn’t the real culprit in day care subsidies cuts. The provincial government “is removing 2,000 spots for us. There’s no money to cover for that,” he said.

“People need to realize that we’re not doing things because we have a mean streak,” Del Grande explained. “We’re just trying to deal with the reality that people are focusing on the operating side of the budget, but we have a major, major capital problem that everybody is forgetting.”

Del Grande mentioned the new subway and streetcars that need to be paid for.

Meanwhile, parents who are entitled to government child care subsidies “should get the subsidy,” he said.

“The people in day care are those that don’t qualify for subsidies because they’re over an income limit. They’re getting an indirect subsidy through overhead being paid directly to the school board,” said Del Grande.

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