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

  • Somali-Canadian activist part of wave of returnees eager to help rebuild

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Almaas Elman will be laid to rest Friday after being killed this week in the country's capital of Mogadishu, the second Somali-Canadian who lost her life this year in pursuit of efforts to rebuild a country wracked by war. Source
  • Hong Kong holds its breath ahead of polls amid lull in violence

    World News CBC News
    Hong Kong is holding its breath ahead of elections on Sunday, which carry added significance after brutal attacks on candidates and months of unrest by protesters seeking the freedom to choose their own leader. Police appealed on Friday to protesters in the China-ruled city not to disrupt the lowest-tier, district council elections, held every four years, pointing to nearly six months of protests and street clashes that officials say have brought the city to the "brink of total breakdown. Source
  • Another woman accuses Epstein of abuse, sues his estate

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A woman who says she suffered lasting damage from sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17 years old sued his estate on Thursday, joining other women who are speaking publicly about pain they have long confronted largely alone. Source
  • Somali-Canadian peace activist was killed by stray bullet, African Union says

    Canada News CBC News
    Preliminary investigations show a young Somali Canadian peace activist was killed by a stray bullet earlier this week in Mogadishu, the peacekeeping mission in Somalia said Friday, while her family prepared her memorial. The statement by the African Union mission said Almaas Elman was hit while travelling in a car Wednesday inside a heavily defended base near the international airport where many diplomats and aid workers have offices. Source
  • Pope turns attention to needs of Thai church, young people

    World News CTV News
    SAM PHRAN, Thailand -- Pope Francis tended to the needs of Thailand's tiny Catholic hierarchy Friday, urging priests and nuns to find ways to communicate the faith with "a Thai face and flesh" in an overwhelmingly Buddhist country. Source
  • Parents of late U.S. hostage chasing North Korean assets

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- The parents of a former U.S. hostage who died after being released from North Korea in a coma in 2017 say they are committed to finding and shutting down illicit North Korean business assets around the world in efforts to hold its government accountable for widespread human rights abuses. Source
  • Police to guard polls for vote in protest-wracked Hong Kong

    World News CTV News
    HONG KONG -- Police will be out in force at polling stations in Hong Kong this weekend as keenly contested local elections take place amid ongoing anti-government protests. Hong Kong's new police commissioner, Tang Ping-keung, told reporters Friday that officers would deal with any outbreak of violence immediately without hesitation. Source
  • Monsanto pleads guilty to illegal pesticide use in Hawaii

    World News CTV News
    HONOLULU -- Agrochemicals company Monsanto on Thursday pleaded guilty to spraying a banned pesticide on research crops on the Hawaii island of Maui in 2014, prosecutors said. Monsanto, now owned by the pharmaceutical company Bayer of Germany, has also agreed to pay $10 million for charges it unlawfully stored the pesticide, which was classified an acute hazardous waste. Source
  • 97 orcas and belugas make the long trip to freedom after release from Russia's 'whale jail'

    World News CBC News
    When the world learned last winter about the existence of a watery prison holding dozens of whales in Russia's Far East, environmentalists such as Oganes Targulyan feared the creatures were doomed. Targulyan, a longtime campaigner for Greenpeace based in Moscow, says the likelihood of the whales surviving a prolonged stay in iced-over pens seemed remote. Source
  • Guatemalan family faces tough choice as deportation looms in the new year

    Canada News CTV News
    A Guatemalan mother and her six children who face deportation in January are pleading with authorities to stay in Canada. The Roblero-Morales family, who live in Waterloo, Ont., came to Canada in 2017. Sandra Morales and her husband Daniel Roblero fled violence and persecution in Guatemala in the 1990s and lived illegally in the U.S. Source