Canadian cities’ childcare fees ‘persistently high’ – report

Child care fees remain unaffordably high in the majority of Canadian cities, says a report showing the latest rankings of the least and most expensive cities for child care in the country. 

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), which compiled the study, says many levels of government have attempted different child care fee interventions, some of which have been more successful than others.

But these schemes, on the whole, do not achieve the goal of providing access to sustained, affordable and high quality child care for a substantial number of families, according to the CCPA.

’Clearly there is still room for improvement’

David Macdonald, senior economist at the CCPA and co-author of the report, said: “Families pay over $10,000 a year for an infant space in 78 per cent  of the cities we examined – clearly there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to child care affordability in this country.”

The study, the sixth in an annual series on child care fees, provides a snapshot of the median child care fees parents pay in 37 cities across Canada for full-time licensed child care of infants, toddlers and preschool-age children. Fees were surveyed in October 2019. With the addition of nine new cities, for the first time this year’s survey provides child care fee data for locations in all provinces and territories.

Macdonald added: “The implementation of various government interventions are showing up in our fee data. What this year’s report continues to make clear is that in the push to reduce sky-high fees, it is public policy – not market forces – that matters.”

’Time for more action across Canada’

Infant child care continues to be most expensive in southern Ontario, with Toronto topping the list, while preschool -age spaces, the most numerous type, are most expensive in Iqaluit. Since 2017 major policy actions have been undertaken in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, with varying results.

“Child care fees in Canada are lowest when services receive substantial public operational funding and where fees are set as a matter of public policy,” added the second co-author, Martha Friendly, executive director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit.

“It’s also important to note that policy elements like fee regulation, public funding and whether the services are profit-seeking have a significant impact on what parents pay, and how affordable services are. We have data about what works. Now it’s time for more action across Canada,” she said.

In Progress: Child care fees in Canada’s big cities 2019 is available for download on the CCPA website

Author: Simon Weedy

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