B.C. parents paying some of the highest fees in Canada for child care

B.C. parents are paying some of the highest fees in Canada for child care, according to the annual report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The report looks at the cost of daycare in three B.C. cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – and compares the cost for 27 Canadian cities in total. It also surveys fees for three age categories of child care: infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Child care for infants, under 18 months old, have the fewest spaces available across Canada. Most provinces require a higher ratio of caregivers to children in this category, however in B.C., the ratio for infants and toddlers is the same.

WATCH: Lynell Anderson of Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. discusses a new study which suggests child care is quite expensive for Metro Vancouver parents.

In 2015, Toronto had the highest infant child care fees of any city across Canada, at $1,736 a month – up from $1,676 in 2014.

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St. John’s comes in second, at $1,400 a month.

Vancouver and Burnaby are both around $1,200 a month, with the median fees in Surrey sitting at about $900.

The Quebec cities of Gatineau, Laval, Montreal, Longueuil and Quebec City, had the cheapest infant care at $174 a month as fees in Quebec are provincially capped. That is still up from 2014, when they were $152 a month.

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When it comes to toddler child care, Torontonians still pay the highest full-day fees for care, with a median of $1,325 a month. Vancouver has the third-highest fees in the country for toddlers, at $1,180 a month.

As with all age categories, the Quebec cities of Gatineau, Laval, Montreal, Longueuil, and Quebec City are cheapest for toddler care, with parents paying only $174 a month—a fee set by the province. The next lowest fees can be found in Winnipeg where they are $451 a month.

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In Burnaby, fees are around $1,000 a month, and again, fees in Surrey are a median of $900.

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Looking at preschoolers in child care, Toronto still comes out on top at $1,033 a month, up from $998 last year. However, this is not drastically different from other Canadian cities.

Calgary and Vancouver both have monthly fees for preschoolers of just over $900 a month. Quebec again has the cheapest fees, with a capped rate of $174 a month.

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Despite being much cheaper than the rest of Canada, across all categories, child care fees have gone up the most proportionally in Quebec due to the introduction of a new rule where fees are increased based on family income. The report found the median family income in each Quebec city surveyed resulted in the cost of child care for those families increasing from $7 to $8 a day.

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The idea of $10 a day child care in B.C. is one that has been put forward before.

The BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition is one of several groups advocating for the adoption of a $10-a-day child care program, similar to one in Quebec.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report found that lower child care fees across Canada are obviously possible, as three provinces (Quebec, Manitoba and P.E.I) cap fees for middle class families and make up the difference between the market rate and what parents have to pay, based on their income. As a result of this policy in Quebec, fees are up to 10 times lower for infant care than they are in Toronto and other cities for median income earners.

The report concludes that government core funding to service is the only successful way to reduce fees, and while child care is a provincial responsibility, there is clearly room for federal co-ordination and funding to close the huge gaps in costs and availability across Canada.

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