According to Toronto's calculations, the funding cuts revealed in Ontario's spring budget will amount to $177 million in 2019.
The city claims the reduction will jeopardize several core city services, including student vaccinations, school breakfasts and subsidized child care spaces.
"I urge all Toronto residents to sign the petition so we can send a message to the province," said Mayor John Tory at a news conference on Wednesday morning.
"While I wish we could have avoided this next step, I believe it's important to engage the people of the city in our efforts to stop these cuts."
LILLEY: Ford goes on the offensive in battle over cuts
More than 4,100 people signed the petition within the first six hours of its launch, city spokesperson Brad Ross told CBC Toronto.
Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care holds Day of Action to protest cuts
The city and the Progressive Conservative government have sparred over the funding cuts since they were revealed in the province's first budget this spring.
Toronto officials have warned that, in addition to a loss of services, the cuts may also lead to an increase in taxes to overcome the shortfall.
The Ontario government responded to those concerns on Tuesday with an offer of $7.35 million to help municipalities and school boards conduct third party audits of their budgets.
Premier Doug Ford said Toronto, and other municipalities, can find savings by cutting waste from their books. He suggested municipal governments could aim to reduce spending by four per cent, which is the target Ford has set for provincial budget savings.
"Our government was elected with a clear mandate to fix the financial mess left behind by the previous Liberal government. We are calling on our municipal partners to work with us to get our province off the path of bankruptcy," wrote Ford's press secretary Ivana Yelich in an email to CBC Toronto.
"If the mayor decides to cut breakfast programs and childcare subsides, or raise taxes, rather than find savings, that is his decision."
The message we are trying to get across is that this 80-million cut is targeting the low-income families the most. When we look at the distribution of these fee subsidies for low-income families so they can send their kids to child care… it actually hurts Doug Fords riding the most, he said Wednesday morning.
While the creation of a petition is unusual, it isn't the first time Toronto has taken this route.
In 2008, then-Mayor David Miller revealed a city-backed petition calling for a nationwide handgun ban.
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
Ontario municipalities will receive at least 80 million less in child-care funding from the provincial government this year and members of the coalition say that when calculating changes to cost-sharing agreements, that number could jump substantially.
This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies of Toronto Star content for distribution to colleagues, clients or customers, or inquire about permissions/licensing, please go to: www.TorontoStarReprints.com