Full-day kindergarten helps cut child care cost

A Town Crier Community Column

Raising a family in Toronto is getting more and more challenging, each and every day. With the increasing cost of everything from child care to skyrocketing housing prices, it is not surprising that residents have been moving out of the city to the 905 and beyond. No wonder we now have 90 empty schools and have lost over 60,000 students in our public schools over the last decade. There are two initiatives currently in progress to help make living in the City of Toronto more affordable for families.

The first initiative, full-day kindergarten, began this fall in 100 schools across the GTA, and will be in every school by 2015-2016.

Why is full-day kindergarten so important?

Instead of having a child in kindergarten half a day, and in day care the remainder of the day, parents will now be able to leave their four and five year olds at kindergarten for the full day, with a teacher and early childhood educator.

Parents will no longer have to commute between kindergarten and child care every day. This will no doubt help reduce the stress level for families, as well as child care costs. It will also save time, a rare and valuable commodity for all parents.

Last, but certainly not least, full-day kindergarten is an important investment in our children’s most precious early years of learning.

The second initiative to help make living in Toronto more affordable for families is the newly proposed Children’s Activity Tax Credit.

As parents know, providing our children with the kinds of activities that interest them most (i.e. hockey, tennis, music and dance lessons) can be quite costly, especially when registration and membership fees begin to add up.

Under the proposed tax credit, parents would be able to claim up to $500 of eligible expenses for extracurricular activities per child.

Parents would receive a refundable tax credit worth up to $50 per child under 16 years of age, or up to $100 for a child with a disability under the age of 18.

This refundable tax credit will also allow low-income parents in Toronto (who pay little or no income tax) to benefit.

Parents would be able to claim the tax credit on their annual income tax return beginning with the 2010 tax year. Eligible expenses incurred on or after Jan. 1, 2010 would qualify for the credit.

Eligible expenses include registration and membership fees, fees paid to cover the cost of uniforms, equipment used in common, and administration and instruction fees.

A wide range of activities are eligible for this proposed tax credit. Eligible sports activities include: hockey, gymnastics, tennis, karate, figure skating, swimming, soccer, horseback riding, and aerobics.

Additional eligible activities include: cadets, chess, CPR, first aid, drama, Girl Guides, Scouts, public speaking, voice lessons, leadership development, choir, cooking for kids, photography, and non-medical therapeutic activities for children with a disability.

The Children’s Activity Tax Credit, along with full-day kindergarten, are needed to ensure families can be part of all our Toronto neighbourhoods.

Sometimes we all forget the incredible sacrifices moms and dads have to make to raise a family in these times, with both parents working. Hopefully, these two initiatives will help families in our city, as we need to do much more to make Toronto family friendly.

If you would like more information on the Children’s Activity Tax Credit or Full Day Kindergarten, please contact my office at: 416-781-2395 or at [email=mcolle.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org]mcolle.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org[/email].

About this article:

By: Mike Colle
Posted: Oct 1 2010 3:02 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto