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

  • Palestinian teen shot dead in Israeli raid on West Bank

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM - Health authorities said a 16-year-old Palestinian died early Wednesday after being wounded during clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a wave of violence that has persisted for months. Source
  • Russia launches fresh offensive, wants sanctions relief to free up Ukraine food supply routes

    World News CBC News
    Russian forces launched offensives on towns in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, with constant mortar bombardment destroying several houses and killing civilians, Ukrainian officials said, as Russia focuses its attack on the industrial Donbas region. Russia has been focused on attempting to seize the separatist-claimed Donbas's two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front, according to Ukrainian officials. Source
  • Winnipeg River, already flowing at a record volume, slated to rise even higher

    Canada News CBC News
    The Winnipeg River is flowing at a record volume in Manitoba because officials no longer have any other option to control flooding across a vast swath of northwestern Ontario and northern Minnesota. Flooding on the Winnipeg River, which is running at about three-and-a-half times higher its usual volume this time of year, has already forced hundreds of people from their homes and washed out roads in Whiteshell Provincial Park. Source
  • How one stone gave a Halifax-area park heritage status

    Canada News CBC News
    A hulking, rocking chunk of granite that's been attracting visitors for two centuries and is rumoured to have caught the attention of royalty has had its historical importance to the Halifax area set in stone. The Halifax Regional Municipality awarded heritage status last week to the Rocking Stone and the surrounding Kidston Lake Park in the community of Spryfield. Source
  • Ukraine updates: Russian shelling kills 6 civilians

    World News CTV News
    What's happening in Ukraine today and how are countries around the world responding? Read live updates on Vladimir Putin and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. KYIV, Ukraine -- A regional governor in eastern Ukraine says at least six civilians have been killed by the latest Russian shelling. Source
  • Ukraine updates: Ukraine remains defiant about peace terms

    World News CTV News
    What's happening in Ukraine today and how are countries around the world responding? Read live updates on Vladimir Putin and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. DAVOS, Switzerland -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country will not give up land in return for an end to the war with Russia following its invasion. Source
  • Wharf of reserve base in St. John's collapsing into sink holes, set for demolition

    Canada News CBC News
    After years of speculation, the Department of National Defence has confirmed a significant section of a naval reserve base in St. John's is set for demolition. HMCS Cabot consists of two large buildings on the south side of St. Source
  • What's a derecho and why is it so destructive? The science behind this powerful storm

    Canada News CBC News
    When Canadian tornado expert David Sills studied the forecast on Saturday morning, he never expected the line of storms headed for Windsor, Ont., would soon strengthen into Canada's first derecho in decades, wreaking havoc across southern Ontario and Quebec. Source
  • Where has Doug Ford been during Ottawa emergencies? Someplace else

    Canada News CBC News
    With just about a week left until election day, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford was supposed to make his first — and presumably only — campaign stop in Ottawa on Thursday. But after a devastating storm ripped through the capital and the surrounding areas in eastern Ontario, Ford's Ottawa trip was cancelled. Source
  • Conservative leadership candidates gather in Quebec for final debate of the race

    Canada News CBC News
    Conservative leadership candidates will gather tonight for the final official debate of the race — a French-language contest that will challenge the candidates' languages skills as they fight for the top job. Tonight's debate in Laval, Que. is the last campaign event where candidates will have a chance to convince would-be voters to take out party memberships before the June 3 deadline. Source