No surprise to parents: Daycare costs in Canada are out of control

Everyone knows daycare costs a lot. A freshly released report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows just how much.

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It’s one thing to commiserate with your fellow parents about the exorbitant cost of Canadian child care, but it’s another thing entirely to see the cold, hard numbers. The left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ third annual report on child care fees came out on Monday, validating those parental complaints with some pretty stark stats. The federal government may have committed to a $500 million child care boost in its 2017 budget, but daycare fees have been skyrocketing coast to coast faster than inflation. Below, some of the more eye-popping figures.

Infant care costs Toronto parents about $19,788 a year, and the fee for two kids is…
$36,000 (for an infant-toddler combo). Infants (aged 1.5 and younger) have the highest fees in Canada—not to mention the fewest spaces—but Toronto costs in particular are “more than twice what Ontario university students pay in tuition,” the report helpfully points out. The most affordable cities are in Quebec, which offers daycare subsidies: Gatineau, Laval, Longueuil and Quebec City max out at $179 per month.

Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Toronto also “wins” for the highest toddler fees, at a median of $1,375 a month — followed closely by Vancouver at $1,325.
Elsewhere in Canada, fees for toddlers (aged 1.5 to 3) rose by an average of eight percent between 2014 and 2016, vastly outpacing inflation (2.5 percent).

Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Even if your kid is potty trained, preschool spaces are still going to cost you $1,15o in Toronto. (Maybe just move?)
But Kitchener, Markham, Mississauga and Vaughan don’t lag far behind, at $1,000 per month. Spaces for preschoolers (aged 4 to 6) are the most abundant, and in general have the lowest fees across the three age categories. Still, like toddler fees, they’ve also grown by a staggering eight percent (vs. 2.5 percent inflation).

Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Low-income families who receive subsidies pay through the nose, too.
Subsidies vary from province to province—and vary widely depending on a family’s pooled income, family composition and education—but many still pay out-of-pocket to supplement daycare expenses. Residents of Saskatoon and Calgary can still expect to pay a whopping $500 per month — the highest unsubsidized fees in the country.

After all that, you may not even be able to get a spot.
70 per cent of child care centres have a wait list, and many charge waiting-list fees (although Ontario banned the practice last summer) and offer no guarantee of securing your offspring a place.

Read more:
Home daycare versus large centres: pros and cons
7 helpful child-care sites and apps
15 questions to ask on your daycare tour (printable)

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