Report finds massive discrepancy in childcare costs across Canada

Haider Nayani / November 7th, 2019

Provinces are piloting new affordability initiatives, such as Alberta’s $25 a day system in Edmonton and Calgary. (workingmother.com)

According to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, childcare costs have increased faster than the rate of inflation in over half of Canadian cities, but there are signs the trend is reversing.

Figures were highest in Toronto and Vancouver, and lowest in Montreal. The discrepancy between the regions is significant, with median infant care costs per month reaching $1,675 in Toronto, compared to just $200 in Montreal.

But according to the report there are signs that fees will decrease over the coming years, due in part to additional funding from the federal government funneled to provincial programs. Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist and Public Interest Researcher with Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says public policy is crucial in creating affordable options.

“Public policy really makes a difference for the affordability of childcare. The reason why some provinces are so much cheaper than others is because of policy. In BC, the provincial government has rolled out policy over the last year, unfortunately in this study we can’t see the results yet, because they’re not coming out in the data.” – Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist and Public Interest Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

According to Ivanova, changes in how we think about child-care have been steadily underway.

“It is encouraging to see that there is a lot more interest in public investing in childcare now than there was five years ago.” Iglika Ivanova, Senior Economist and Public Interest Researcher, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Some provinces are using additional federal funding to decrease child-care costs whereas others are using money to increase subsidies for low-income families. Impacts of the latter were not captured by the survey.

Sharon Gregson from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C.supports some of the province’s pilot initiatives.

“We need to see the provincial government in BC continue to implement the 10 dollar a day plan. That is the template for how to build a childcare system in BC.” – Sharon Gregson, Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C.

The average cost of child-care in several BC municipalities is well over $1000 per month as depicted by the adjacent graph.

However Gregson also feels more strategies need to be implemented going forward.

“We need to see more investment in affordability for families, and the creation of many more licensed spaces. And the new licensed spaces that have to be created have to have non-traditional working hours of families and support indigenous led childcare for indigenous children.”  Sharon Gregson, Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C.

This is the 5th straight year the cross country survey has been conducted.