Fast rising child care fees demand a federal response

The shockingly rapid rising cost of child care in most big cities, documented in today’s report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, underscores the urgent need for the federal government to reach an agreement with the provinces and territories that will pave the way for major system change, says Canada’s national child care advocacy group.a-growing-concern

“The report confirms that across the country families with both low and middle incomes are left on their own to cope with crushing child care costs, if they are lucky enough to find a spot,” said Morna Ballantyne, Executive Director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC).

“Relief will come only when governments switch from subsidizing individual families to funding and managing the supply of child care, and when they set a parent fee structure that makes child care affordable for families of every income level,” she said.

The CCPA annual fee survey, the third since 2014, shows that a middle-income family with an infant and a three-year-old living in Toronto must pay almost $36,000 a year for regulated child care if they get to the top of long wait lists.  A limited number of low income families may be eligible to have their fees subsidized but, in several cities, those who qualify must pay thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket fees; in Saskatoon, for example, it would be $6,000 a year.

Ballantyne says the CCPA’s exposé of the rising cost of child care, and the wide-ranging fees across the country, should put pressure on both levels of government to rethink their current patchwork, under-funded approach which is not working for anyone.

“The federal government has signaled that the new national framework agreement on early learning and child care now being negotiated will be built around the principles of affordability and quality. But to address both problems, as well as the lack of spaces, Canadians need our governments to agree to treat child care as a public service and organize it that way rather than arrange for it to be sold and bought as a private commodity,” she said.