A new report ranking child care affordability in major Canadian cities found that Toronto has the highest child care fees of all 22 cities studied.
However, when compared to women’s income levels, Brampton has the least affordable child care services, with the cost soaking up 36 percent of a woman’s income. That’s four months worth of income, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which released the report this week.
The first-of-its-kind report uses median unsubsidized child care fees for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in Canada’s 22 largest cities and compares them to the median income of women aged between 25 and 34.
Cities in Quebec have the most affordable child care, thanks to provincial policies setting low daily child care fees. Gatineau took the top spot with child care costs at only 4 percent of a woman’s income, or two week’s worth of work.
Laval, Montreal, Longueil, and Quebec City were also among the most affordable, with women spending 5 to 6 percent of their income on child care, or about one month’s worth of work.
According to the report, Canadian mothers have one of the highest rates of employment among OECD countries. At the same time, Canada has one of the lowest levels of government spending on early childhood care.
“Affordable child care is an important issue not just for parents, it’s important for Canada’s economy,” said CCPA senior economist David Macdonald, co-author of the report.
“When parents are given an affordable child care option, as in Quebec, they overwhelmingly choose to work.”
The monthly cost of care for infants was reported at $1,676 in Toronto, followed by $1,394 in St. John’s, N.L. By contrast, cities in Quebec capped costs at $152 thanks to the province’s $7.30-a-day child care policy.
The next lowest cost level was in Winnipeg, albeit with a sharp rise to $651 a month, which is also capped at a limit by a provincial policy.
Child care costs for toddlers were slightly lower, with the levels being highest in Toronto at $1,324 a month, and lowest in Quebec cities at $152 a month. Costs for preschoolers were again the highest in Toronto at $998 a month, and lowest in Quebec at $152 a month.
Due to lower income levels of women in Brampton, however, it had a lower affordability rate compared to Toronto. Surrey, Windsor, and London were also among the least affordable cities, with child care costs accounting for 34 to 35 percent of a woman’s income.