Education Action: Toronto

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Student Fees

A brief reminder that PSSC (Programs and Schools Services Committee) meets tomorrow, Wednesday, February 23rd @ 5:30 pm in Committee Room “A” at the TDSB (5050 Yonge St.), and should have on their agenda the issue of student fees as raised last month at PSSC by members of the ICAC sub-committee. To check Boardroom agendas, go to:
Click on “boardroom” in right corner of page, then click on “agendas” on side menu.


As our City’s budget moves towards approval at Council, it includes changes that will have a serious impact on our neighbourhoods. Perhaps the most troubling is the recommendation to introduce user fees for adult programs in our City’s Priority Recreation Centres.

Priority Centres were established after amalgamation, located in areas with a significant low-income population. Our Priority Centres allow everyone in the community to register and participate without barriers and offer vital programs and opportunities for at-risk youth, seniors, and parents. All programs are open without charge on a first come, first serve basis, and many of the people who access the programs live in our TCHC buildings.

Ward 28 currently has four Priority Centres:

• Regent Park Recreation Centre North,

• Regent Park Recreation Centre South,

• Wellesley Community Centre,
• John Innes Recreation Centre (which is situated in Ward 27 but services many from our community).

The 2011 Operating Budget recommends introducing user fees for adult programs at these and the other 17 Priority Centres across the city. The average fee for an adult program is $68 per session. A number of important programs would be affected by this
• AcTiVe8, which provides programming for those with developmental disabilities;

• Yoga, pilates, and other fitness programs, to improve health and wellness;

• Music and crafts programs, to stimulate and engage some of our most vulnerable people; and,

• Soccer, volleyball, basketball, and other sports, for active living and social interaction.

The budget documents suggest that those who access these programs would still be able to enrol using the Welcome Policy. The Welcome Policy offers a limited subsidy to residents who fall below the Low Income Cut Off (LICO).

I believe that these changes will make it difficult or impossible for those who fall outside the LICO to participate in recreation programs. We should not create a deterrent for low-income families or push away middle-income families. This is exactly what happened at our own St. Lawrence Recreation Centre after amalgamation, when free programs ended and user fees were introduced.

Priority Centres work well. They give vulnerable individuals a place to make new friends. They give the opportunity for people to gain and improve their skills. They help make healthy mothers and healthy families.

Priority Centres allow everyone from our community – regardless of income – to register and participate in programs. This mix from many social, economic, and cultural backgrounds helps break down barriers and prejudices, creating safer and more vibrant neighbourhoods.

As you know, I am committed to improving the quality and accessibility of recreation services and programs, and I will continue to work with my Council colleagues to find practical solutions to ensure these goals. I urge you to help us save full access to programs at our Priority Centres by calling the Mayor’s office at 416-397-FORD (3673) or sending the Mayor an e-mail at And please take a moment to sign our petition.

With your participation, we can ensure that our voice is heard, and that we build the best possible recreation system for everyone in Toronto to use and enjoy.

Pam McConnell – City Councillor


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