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."


Latest Canada & World News

  • Small quakes continue to shake Italy

    World News CTV News
    MILAN -- A series of small temblors have continued to shake a mountainous region of central Italy, further unsettling thousands of residents displaced by a pair of powerful aftershocks to the deadly August quake. Italy's national volcanology center said two smaller quakes registered magnitudes above 4 before dawn Thursday, centered near Macerata in the Marche region, while dozens of smaller ones were recorded in the area overnight. Source
  • Chinese sailor attempting record missing in Pacific near Hawaii

    World News CBC News
    The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a Chinese man attempting to set a sailing record after a crew did not find him aboard his boat off the Hawaii islands. In a statement Wednesday night, the Coast Guard said a crew from the USS Makin Island went aboard Guo Chuan's trimaran about 620 miles northwest of Oahu and only found Guo's life jacket. Source
  • Police veto plans to reopen Australian theme park 3 days after deaths

    World News CTV News
    CANBERRA, Australia - The Australian theme park where four people died on a river rapids ride has defended its safety record as police vetoed plans to reopen its doors to the public three days after the tragedy. Source
  • Japan, U.S. and South Korea agree to step up pressure on North Korea

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO - Senior officials from Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed Thursday to step up pressure on North Korea as they stick to their goal of persuading the communist state to abandon its nuclear weapons. Source
  • Local sheriff's office getting impatient with Dakota Access protesters

    World News CBC News
    Protesters trying to stop construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline were bracing for a confrontation with police Thursday after the demonstrators refused to leave private land in the pipeline's path. A months-long dispute over the four-state, $3.8 billion US pipeline reached a crisis point when some 200 protesters set up camp on land owned by pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners. Source
  • Search continues for man wanted in Oklahoma 'rage killings'

    World News CTV News
    OKLAHOMA CITY - The search for an Oklahoma man wanted in a cross-state string of killings, shootings and carjackings is entering its fourth day, and authorities say they have no idea where the suspect may be. Source
  • Early voting shows Clinton ahead: AP-GfK poll

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton appears on the cusp of a potentially commanding victory over Donald Trump, fueled by solid Democratic turnout in early voting, massive operational advantages and increasing enthusiasm among her supporters. A new Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday finds the Democratic nominee has grabbed significant advantages over her Republican rival with just 12 days left before Election Day. Source
  • Uncle of Japanese emperor dies at age 100

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO - The younger brother of former Japanese Emperor Hirohito died Thursday at the age of 100. The Imperial Household Agency announced that Prince Mikasa had died in the morning at a hospital in Tokyo. Source
  • Don Atchison loses bid for 5th term as Saskatoon mayor

    Canada News CBC News
    Don Atchison's 13-year run as mayor has ended after he was defeated by former city Coun. Charlie Clark, who became the unofficial mayor-elect in Wednesday's election. The unofficial results were Charlie Clark with 41 per cent of vote, Don Atchison with 37 per cent, Kelley Moore with 22 per cent, and Devon Hein with one per cent of the vote. Source
  • Oilers continue torrid start with win over Capitals

    Canada News CBC News
    ?The Edmonton Oilers aren't used to this type of start to a season. Benoit Pouliot had a pair of goals as the Oilers stretched their winning streak to four games with a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. Source