speaker on child subsidy

Child care subsidy removal sparks toddler-friendly protest

International students, undocumented immigrants can't afford child care in sanctuary city, group warns

Dozens of toddlers and young children were drawing, reading and singing in protest of the withdrawal of child care subsidy for some Torontonians on Feb. 16.

The children, alongside their parents, held a sit-in outside Mayor John Tory’s office to show that Toronto is a sanctuary city and is inclusive. They are part of the group No one is illegal – Toronto. According to their website, the group is made up of “immigrants, refugees and allies who fight for the rights of all migrants to live with dignity and respect.”

The group became aware of the issue when they were approached by international students in September. Their child care subsidies were taken away from them, which violates the city’s sanctuary policy, Mercedes Lee, the groups media spokesperson said.

According to the City of Toronto’s website, child care subsidies help families with the cost of licensed child care.

Lee says the issue isn’t only effecting international students but undocumented people as well.

“Toronto is making cuts to people who have precarious status… if you’re being asked to provide a tax return, [for] many undocumented people, that would be a barrier for them,” she said. “We want this barrier removed so the city can be truly accessed by everyone.”

Lee said the city committed to this in 2013, so the group was holding them accountable to their own policy.

Lynn Connolly, a director of Children Services Toronto, says the three levels of government are expanding child care through investments and want people to apply for a fee subsidy.

But to determine eligibility, people applying for subsidy need to have a notice of assessment. According to Government of Canada’s website, the notice is sent to individuals who have filed tax returns or who have had tax returns filed for them.

“People that are new to the country can certainly apply without a notice of assessment but in a year they’ll have to get a notice of assessment,” Connolly said. “That’s the legislative requirement for fee subsidy.”

However, people are scared to come forward, Lee said, as “several hundred thousand undocumented people who share this space” may be affected.

But she says the group doesn’t want people to be afraid of accessing services, as they’re entitled to them.