January 9, 2018
A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives on the rising cost of child care fees concludes that a typical family with young children pays about 30% of its income to child care. To put this into perspective, this is about $21,096 a year on average in cities such as Toronto — more than three times the average tuition cost to put an older child through university for one year. This one-third ratio is much higher than in other parts of the world. Among 35 wealthy nations, Canada is found to be among the most expensive for child care. Only two countries, the United States and Ireland, are more expensive than Canada.
Helping parents afford this care through a properly funded child care system might appear to be expensive for society, yet many Canadian studies and reports show that of any policy geared to help struggling families, investments for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children. Investments in child care pays for itself. It has compounding positive effects on women’s employment and pay but goes even further for low-income families, because it can move generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults. If the cost of quality child care was reduced to just 10% of a family’s income, more children would be provided with a stronger start in life and contribute significantly to the economic security of women and families.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives makes the case for greater and more meaningful investments in child care from our governments. According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development recommendations this would mean investing 1% of Canada’s GDP into child care (currently our government only invests 0.25%). To do so would not only make child care more affordable, it would improve the quality of child care programs through supporting the education and training of early childhood educators and improve pay and benefits to the child care workforce.