Child-care costs highest in Toronto, lowest in Quebec

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

  • Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships no longer in place after court ruling

    World News CTV News
    MIAMI -- Pandemic restrictions on Florida-based cruise ships are no longer in place under a Friday ruling by a federal appeals court, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seek to fight a Florida lawsuit challenging the regulations. Source
  • Search for bodies concludes at site of Florida condo collapse

    World News CBC News
    Firefighters on Friday declared the end of their search for bodies at the site of a collapsed Florida condo building, concluding a month of painstaking work removing layers of dangerous debris that were once piled several storeys. Source
  • Africa became hardest hit by terrorism this year: UN experts

    World News CTV News
    UNITED NATIONS -- Africa became the region hardest hit by terrorism in the first half of 2021 as the Islamic State and al-Qaida extremist groups and their affiliates spread their influence, boasting gains in supporters and territory and inflicting the greatest casualties, UN experts said in a new report. Source
  • Fauci says prospect of open border for fully vaccinated Canadians part of active U.S. talks

    Canada News CBC News
    U.S. President Joe Biden's chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci says the prospect of opening the U.S. border to fully vaccinated Canadians is part of an "active discussion" in the White House. "I can tell you that the border situation and letting Canadians in who are fully vaccinated is an area of active discussion right now in the U.S. Source
  • Palestinians say teen killed by Israeli gunfire in West Bank

    World News CTV News
    RAMALLAH, WEST BANK -- Palestinian health officials on Friday said a 17-year-old youth was shot and killed by Israeli troops during a clash in the occupied West Bank. The shooting occurred in Nebi Saleh, a village where residents have held numerous demonstrations over the years against the expansion of a nearby Israeli settlement on what they say is their land. Source
  • Salmon are getting cooked by climate change. Here's how they could be saved

    Canada News CBC News
    A heat wave is expected to kill all juvenile chinook salmon in California's Sacramento River, wildlife officials say. Meanwhile, climate change and extreme heat waves are hitting Canada's salmon too, on both coasts. So, how bad is it here, and what can be done to save our salmon? CBC News explains. Source
  • 'Barney' the bull eludes capture days after farm escape on Long Island

    World News CTV News
    MASTIC, N.Y. -- An escaped bull has eluded capture for several days on Long Island despite searchers employing a helicopter and night-vision equipment along with attempts to lure the roaming animal with grain and a cow. Source
  • China's Xi visits Tibet amid infrastructure boom, rising controls over religion

    World News CBC News
    Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made a rare visit to Tibet as authorities tighten controls over the Himalayan region's traditional Buddhist culture, accompanied by an accelerated drive for economic development and modernized infrastructure. State media reported Friday that Xi visited sites in the capital, Lhasa, including the Drepung Monastery, Barkhor Street and the public square at the base of the Potala Palace that was home to the Dalai Lamas, Tibet's traditional spiritual and temporal…
  • Swastika painted next to Jewish man's car in Kelowna, B.C.

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- An osteopathic practitioner in Kelowna says he's been targeted for his Jewish heritage before, but that didn't make what happened on Wednesday any easier. Michael, who asked CTV News Vancouver not to use his last name or image because of concerns for his safety, had just finished work at his West Kelowna clinic and was loading his things into the back seat of his car when he noticed the swastika painted on the pavement behind the vehicle. Source
  • Yogi Muise, cornerstone member of Cape Breton's Men of the Deeps, has died

    Canada News CBC News
    Yogi Muise, a longtime member of Cape Breton's Men of the Deeps, has died. He performed with the choir of former coal miners for over 50 years. Muise, who was 85, is being remembered for his love of music as well as being a big, gentle man who loved to listen to people's stories. Source