Childcare is admittedly one of the most in-demand services that modern Canadian families need to function. As most households see the two heads of the family working to augment expenses, especially during these pandemic times, the need to have people qualified to take care of the little ones is high. Yet, daycare is also incredibly expensive, especially in Ontario and other key parts of the country.
In Canada, all kinds of childcare are mainly paid for by the parents, though some territories/provinces have set a regulated daycare system that helps subsidize expenses. There is no free daycare in the country, and the prices for such services and how they are delivered will depend on where you are located.
At daycare, professional childcare workers are responsible for taking care of toddlers and young children (sometimes infants) in different environments, with the goal to provide social, intellectual, physical, and educational support. Beyond teaching children the school-related basics, the job also entails conducting activities, games, and preparing materials and meals or snacks.
Spending for Daycare
According to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2016, Canada is one of the world’s priciest locations in the world for childcare. On average, two-income households shell out around 23 percent of their total salary on taking care of the kids.
This is higher than the 15 percent average worldwide. Solo parents or single-income homes have a more significant challenge, reportedly spending at some 15 percent of their pay on childcare. This is further complicated by the fact that some households have more than one child that needs to be placed in daycare.
Cost of Daycare in Canada
The cost of daycare depends on the child’s age and where you are located in the country. Generally, the childcare fees go lower as the kids get older.
Because a daycare facility is more than just changing your child’s nappies and playing with them, it requires that it be manned by licensed professionals who specialize in childcare. A good daycare center is one that has the resources to provide a nurturing and safe space for the child to explore and learn while also gaining essential skills to thrive in life. In Canada, the demand for daycare is reportedly a lot more than its supply. This is one of the reasons why it is highly-expensive in the country.
Besides, given that the parents’ primary responsibility of teaching their children has to be delegated to somebody else (because they have to go out to work), childcare facilities understandably rake their fees up higher. Given the current economic conditions, the decision to go to a daycare center is even more difficult. How do you ensure that your household meets its needs financially while ensuring that the little ones aren’t neglected in all aspects?
Quebec reportedly has it good because its fees stay consistent regardless of where you enroll. This is due to a provincial government policy that requires all childcare providers to charge a flat fee.
As per 2015 figures, the average monthly preschool cost in Quebec was $174. At the polar end of the spectrum is Toronto, Ontario, which logged the highest monthly average daycare cost at $1,033 for the same year. Other locations that made the top five most expensive in daycare spending are Markham, Ottawa, Vaughan, and Brampton.
In a more recent 2020 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Toronto and other Ontario cities still log the highest in daycare costs, with most families paying more than $10,000 annually for a full-time licensed space that would take care of their children. As of October 2019, the research showed that Toronto daycare costs are at an average of $1,774 per month (or $21,888 per year). Markham still takes up the second most expensive spot, then Vaughan, Oakville, Mississauga, Kitchener, and Richmond Hill.
Daycare in Ontario in 2021
Licensed childcare facilities in Ontario operate according to the rules set by the Child Care and Early Years, Act of 2014. This covers child care centers, regulated family child care programs, nursery schools, and before and after school services. The city also has a Child Care Subsidy Program in place via the District Social Services Administration or the Consolidated Municipal Service Manager. Here, families may acquire partial or full subsidies depending on their households’ incomes. The waiting list is reportedly long for such assistance.
For the year 2021, the Canadian federal government is proposing to allocate millions in public funds to build a more structured national childcare system that would help families afford daycare, among other related concerns.
The details of the proposal are yet to be ironed out. Still, the government reportedly intends to spend as much as $240 million in bursaries and grants to help different Canadian territories obtain more certified early childhood educators. Several public sectors welcome the proposition as this could mean that more parents can go back into the workforce, thereby revitalizing the economy.
Regardless of the cost of daycare in Ontario (or in other parts of Canada, for that matter), parents are left with little choice when it comes to deciding on whether or not to join. Where do you leave your kids when you have to go out to work? Many Canadian households have both parents working, and most do not have the resources to hire extra help. During these present conditions, where many workers are encouraged to work from home, childcare facilities might not be in demand. However, this is just a temporary glitch in our reality, and, eventually, everyone will need to head back out and resume as usual. Daycare facilities are costly but also necessary.
“It is clear that daycare in Ontario, and across Canada as a whole, can be expensive. Despite this cost, it remains an essential service for many households that rely on both parents working to make ends meet. The proposal from the Federal Government to allocate millions of dollars towards childcare initiatives could help families afford more quality care options while allowing them to re-enter the workforce with confidence. This will not only benefit those looking for childcare but also contribute positively to our economy overall. While we wait for these changes to come into effect, I hope families are able to find affordable solutions that work best for their needs during these trying times.”
– Kristian Crowe, Father and Founder of Above It All Roofing