Child care costs highest in Toronto, lowest in Quebec: report

A new report says child-care costs have increased across the country, but some regions are feeling the pinch much more than most.

See Full Article

The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives tracks the price of child care across 27 Canadian cities and three age groups - infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

Child-care fees were highest in Toronto across the board, with parents facing median costs of more than a thousand dollars regardless of what age group their children fall in.

Quebec marks the other end of the spectrum, where government policies have capped child-care fees at $174 a month across all age groups.

The study also found that space in regulated child-care facilities was hard to come by in every city and lengthy waiting lists were common.

The report by the CCPA - a think-tank that describes itself as a "progressive voice" in public policy debates - says the numbers suggest the need for all levels of government to get involved and invest in a more affordable child-care system nationwide.

Senior economist and report co-author David Macdonald said the variation among regions is both striking and concerning.

"It's very much an accident of birth as to whether they can find affordable child care or not," Macdonald said in a telephone interview. "One of the starkest differences is in Ottawa ...You pay five times more for the same pre-school space one kilometre away in Gatineau compared to in Ottawa."

Cost variations are not always so starkly illustrated, but the centre's report suggests that fees cover a broad spectrum across the country.

Median costs for infant care in Toronto, which equal $1,736 a month, are noticeably higher than they are in second-place Newfoundland and Labrador which still charges a hefty $1,400.

Variations also exist among cities that place limits on the prices parents must pay.

Quebec is not alone in capping child-care costs for families, as similar measures exist in Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.

While all cities in Quebec offer child care at $174 a month, however, parents in Winnipeg must shell out a median of $651 a month. The number rises to $738 in Charlottetown.

On average, child-care costs across the country rose five per cent over levels documented in 2014, the report said, adding much of the increase was tied to an adjustment of the provincial cap in Quebec.

Such an increase is no news to Jane Mercer, who's watched the upward trajectory of with rising alarm for more than two decades.

When her own children were enrolled in Toronto day cares 27 years ago, she paid $1,540 a month for an infant and $880 a month for a preschool-age child over the age of 3.

Now, in her capacity as executive director for the Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care, she said she's watched the problem intensify and leave families struggling to stay afloat.

Mercer attributes the rising costs to the staffing-related challenges the industry faces.

She said most child-care centres spend nearly 85 per cent of their budgets on hiring the most qualified staff they can find and either staying within or exceeding provincially mandated child to adult ratios. This trend is unlikely to change, she said, since there is no substitute for qualified employees.

"It's a labour-intensive industry," Mercer said. "We can't automate it and reap those efficiencies. That is at the heart of the whole problem."

While budgets may be largely consumed by staff salaries, Macdonald said those workers are taking home unusually low wages.

The report pegged the average salary of an early childhood educator at $25,000, noting that many of them would be unable to afford to put their own children into the system.

Both Macdonald and Mercer agree that provincial and federal governments should take a more active role in reversing the trend.

Macdonald is hopeful based on the focus child care received during the federal election. All three parties featured child-care benefit programs in their platforms, with the new Liberal government planning to earmark $22 billion to help families with their ballooning costs.

Macdonald said systems like Quebec's, in which parent fees are capped as governments make up the difference, offer a viable solution.

"That appears to be the most effective way in Canada to reduce fees for middle class families," he said. "If you have a system in where it's just in essence decided without government, you end up with situations like Toronto."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • N.L. paper apologizes for headline critics said blamed sex-case complainant

    Canada News CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- A Newfoundland newspaper has issued an apology for a headline some readers said blamed the victim of an alleged sexual assault by a police officer. Steve Bartlett, managing editor of the Telegram in St. Source
  • Russia's ambassador to United Nations dies at 64

    World News CBC News
    Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly Monday after falling ill in his office at the mission, Russian officials said. Churkin, 64, was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York, where he died, Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told The Associated Press. Source
  • Buckle up when told by flight crews, TSB investigation recommends

    Canada News CBC News
    Transportation Safety Board (TSB) officials who investigated a turbulent Air Canada flight that left 21 people hurt are reminding passengers to wear seatbelts after it was determined that many onboard the plane diverted to Calgary had not buckled up when urged to do so. Source
  • Russia's UN ambassador dies in NYC at 64

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Russian officials say its ambassador to the United Nations has died suddenly in New York City. Vitaly Churkin was 64. Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told The Associated Press that Churkin became ill in his office at Russia's UN mission and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he died Monday. Source
  • Driver clocked at 203 km/h in 60 km/h zone in Toronto: police

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto Police say a man is facing charges after allegedly being clocked at more than three times the legal limit in east-end Toronto. They say an officer spotted a car travelling at high speed early Monday morning and measured the speed at 203 km/h in a posted 60 km/h zone. Source
  • Iraqi troops move on western Mosul as Mattis holds talks

    World News CTV News
    SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq -- Iraqi forces advanced Monday into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half, as the visiting U.S. Source
  • TSB warns air travellers of importance of seatbelts after severe turbulence incident

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Transportation Safety Board is highlighting the importance of seatbelts for air travellers after it investigated a severe turbulence incident on a Toronto-bound flight. The incident took place on a Dec. Source
  • Former Canadian union leader Bob White dies

    Canada News CBC News
    Bob White, the Canadian union leader who founded the Canadian Auto Workers after splitting off from its American counterpart, has died at the age of 81. Unifor, the union which now encompasses the Canadian Auto Workers, tweeted that White was "a great union leader. Source
  • Kremlin defends recognition of Ukrainian rebel passports

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- The Kremlin on Monday defended its decision to recognize passports issued by separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine, saying it came as a response to Ukraine's blockade of rebel regions. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also shrugged off a peace plan that a Ukrainian lawmaker reportedly tried to peddle to U.S. Source
  • Famine declared in part of South Sudan by government and UN

    World News CTV News
    KAMPALA, Uganda -- Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three UN agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. Source