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Chow unveils plan for more after-school programs

In line with her mantra to “put children and family at the heart of our city,” Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow has announced she will expand after-school programs for boys and girls.

“There are holes in our city’s after-school programs,” Chow said at the opening of her campaign office on Sunday.

“We can improve it with a focused, affordable plan.”

Chow wants to add 40 neighbourhoods to the after-school recreation and care program (ARC) she helped create under former mayor Mel Lastman. She said right now only 14 per cent of children aged six to 12 have access to the program in 41 neighbourhoods.

The program would also create 200 jobs for youth, according to Chow.

“Giving kids more to do helps them grow up strong and stay out of trouble,” she said.

“And for too many parents, arranging babysitters, enrolling in other programs and relying on family and friends is impractical and costs too much.”

Fees for ARC are now $2.34 a day for each child and are waived for about one-third of the participants who live in priority neighbourhoods.

The expansion would be phased in over three years, at which point it would cost $3.2 million a year.

Chow said she would cover the amount with property tax increases pegged to the rate of inflation, donations or partnerships with non-profit groups.