With the highest child care costs in the country, Toronto parents, politicians, and policy makers are watching closely at what the federal parties could offer to make raising a family a little more affordable.
Every federal party, aside from the Conservatives, have offered some form of child care coverage in their platforms. Both the NDP and Greens are pitching massive investments into a national child care program, while the Liberals are offering to lowering fees for parents by 10 per cent.
But two parents speaking with Global News said none of the parties have provided enough to tackle the high costs associated with child care.
Patricia Au said she wasn’t able to find a daycare space for her oldest child until she was much older. Now, she and her husband pay more than $1,000 per month for their 3-year-old. All while knowing life will soon get much more expensive.
“It definitely takes a chunk out of our monthly income,” said Au, “soon we’ll have two kids in daycare.”
Au thinks providing more child care spaces will help parents return to the workforce.
“A plan to get more spots, as well as to help parents to make it more affordable, I think, is going to be really key,” she said.
Katy James agrees that the issue isn’t being taken seriously enough during the campaign. After trying desperately to find a daycare spot for her child, she and her husband accepted one despite being in a difficult financial arrangement.
“I still didn’t have a job to go back to” said James, “these spots are coveted so it would be crazy to turn it down.”
On top of paying for their monthly rent, James and her husband pay about $1,700 a month for full-time daycare for their 18-month-old daughter. It’s this financial strain that has her leaning towards supporting a universal child care system.
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Whether the parties live up to what they promise is another matter according to James. “There’s really not a lot to hang your hat on as a Canadian” she said.
James isn’t alone in her desire to see federal leaders lead the charge on subsidized child care. City Councillor Mike Layton thinks it’s the best way to ensure families in Toronto can get spaces they can afford.
“For those that are struggling the most, we don’t have the subsidies in place for them to access” said Layton. He would like to see the next government pave the way for subsidized program like the Quebec’s. Parents there pay between $8.05 and $21.95 a day for their first child, depending on their yearly income.
Along with promising 250,000 more daycare spaces, the Liberal Party’s platform includes establishing a position to begin creating a national child care system.
But child care expert Martha Friendly said even with the stronger policies present in some of the platforms, establishing a strong child care system will take a long period of time. Friendly has been researching child care for around 50 years and said it won’t be something that is established overnight.
“In the Liberals, the NDP, and the Green platforms that there is a recognition about actually doing the work of building a system over time” said Friendly.
Friendly said it would take about a decade to properly establish a child care system in the country that mirrors those that are the envy of other countries.
“It’s not like some magical thing that tomorrow every single person would be able to walk up to a child care door” she said.
Despite the time, effort, and political will needed to establish a universal child care program, Friendly said it has its merits. “Children benefit from good child care and not poor child care and women need equality” she said.
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