The average cost for child care for Canadian families is increasing steadily. A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) shows an increase of eight per cent since 2014. This of course, is not a problem for families in which one parent chooses to stay home to care for the children, rather than work. But many parents who decide to or need to work are digging holes in their pockets from the unaffordable child care costs. Multiple children can end up costing over $3,000 a month in care.
These child care rates should be lowered and capped at a reasonable and affordable cost for working families in Canada.
The study from the CCPA focuses on three ages groups: infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. All day care for children under four years old seem to cost the most. Costs of care also depend on where you live. The highest cost for child care in Canada is Ontario. More specifically, Toronto. In Toronto, infant care costs an average of $1,649 per month, which adds up to $19,788 a year. The lowest rate is Montreal. Parents using full-time care in Quebec pay an average of $164 per month.
Many Toronto residents have moved east to Durham Region where daycare costs are a little less, but no major decrease. The Region reports cost for toddlers at a non-profit daycare at $48.40, compared with $43 at a local commercial daycare. Both rates are above the proposed increase to $42.75. The Region’s daycare centers also saw a three per cent rate increase since last year.
In Quebec, the province and its government stepped in to put a cap on child care rates. Because of this, many stay-at-home parents who really wanted to work were given the opportunity. The extra jobs boosted average household incomes along with the entire economy.
The system in Quebec wasn’t perfect and did eventually prove to be too expensive for the government. The rates were changed again, but Quebec families still pay the lowest rates in Canada. The “Quebec model” or a system like it, is worth applying to other provinces and jurisdictions.
During his election campaign, Justin Trudeau did commit to a national child care strategy. According to Liberal.ca, they plan to meet with provinces, territories, and indigenous communities to begin a new “National Early Learning and Child Care Framework” to deliver affordable, high-quality, and flexible child care for Canadian families. The Liberals say it will be funded through their investments in social infrastructure.
According to The Toronto Star, as of February 6 Mayor John Tory announced an investment and grants to fund local school boards that house child care spaces. The investment of $1.13 million in 2017 will mean the parents of more than 8,000 children in Toronto will not see their fees go up.
At least for now, some parents of Toronto can be assured their rates will not go up. But for many other parents of nearby regions, the battle for lower child care fees continues. If a change is going to happen, it needs to happen now. The price should be capped like Quebec’s model and help our province’s economy as well. For hardworking Ontario parents, the plan and federal budget for affordable child care can’t come soon enough.