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Child Care in Canada: What Parents Must Know

By IntFormalities
Updated on February 23, 2024
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Though Canada has one of the highest salaries in the world, the high cost of living means nearly all adults work. The result is people use child care to look after their young children. As well as looking after the child while the parent is at work, child care offers additional benefits. By attending childcare, children can interact with other children and adults, which helps them with early learning and development. This article looks at early learning and childcare options available to you. 

Early Learning And Childcare In Canada

How Does Childcare Work in Canada?

There are different types of childcare options available in Canada. Some examples are:

  • Before & after school programs, 
  • Day care centers
  • Nannies
  • Preschool programs, and 
  • Home daycares (which will include both part-time and full-time).

Broadly speaking, child care falls under two categories: regulated and unregulated. Let’s look at what this means.

Childcare That’s Regulated 

These childcare facilities are licensed, monitored, and regulated by the territorial and provincial authorities. Services falling under this remit include preschools, nursery schools, full-day center-based child care, child care in the home, and child care for school ages.  

Childcare That’s Unregulated 

These are services offered in the home of a caregiver or the child’s home (by babysitters or nannies). The services are not licensed, monitored, or regulated by official authorities. The parents must decide on the facilitator’s suitability and whether they can provide more than the basic requirements.  

How Much Does Childcare Cost in Canada?

With the exception of Quebec, childcare costs are generally expensive in Canada. The costs depend on whether the child is:

  • An infant (less than 2 years old),
  • A toddler (age range starts at the minimum age of 18 months and up to 3 years),
  • Of preschool age (between 2.5 years and kindergarten age which is 4 and 5 years old, depending on the province).

The Canadian government has been working hard to reduce childcare fees aiming to bring the cost down to $10 nationwide by 2026. As part of the scheme, many provinces have already seen costs slashed by 50% by the end of 2022.

In Quebec, the fees are subsidized. This means that the costs are fixed at C$8.45 per day regardless of where the child care occurs. The child care costs for infants are the highest, while preschool age is the lowest. 

Typically in Toronto, the cost for full-time infant daycare in 2023 is around $25. It is an improvement from previous years when it would have cost twice as much.

Why Are There Waitlists?

Unfortunately, childcare facilities (especially childrens day care) are not available in abundant quantities. As a result, many childcare services operate on a waitlist basis. It often leads to parents seeking to get on the waitlist even when the mother is pregnant. Some centres require the parent to pay to be on the waitlist, varying from C$50 to C$200. It is not uncommon for parents to get on the waitlist for multiple centers to gain the earliest possible access.  

Why the Canadian Child Benefit Is So Useful

The Canadian federal government offers all parents access to the Canadian Child Benefit program. The benefits help parents to raise their children. Child Benefit offers a maximum amount of C$6,997 for children under 6. Many parents use this benefit to pay for the cost of childcare. 

How To Find a Suitable Childcare Provider in Canada

We suggest you focus on finding a provider that meets your specific requirements. For instance, if you work outside the 9 to 5 office hours, you will want a provider available during those times. Or you may wish to have a provider near your place of work or home. 

The best place to start is your province or city’s Ministry of Education website. It will provide an extensive list of regulated providers in your area. 

For informal care, such as a nanny, you will need to check out various job boards, ask other parents for recommendations, or search online.

You must take extra care to ensure unlicensed providers are safe and suitable to your needs.

Childcare Made Affordable In Canada

Nearly all adults in Canada work, meaning they must resort to childcare providers. But the costs are an issue. It is not uncommon for families living in Ontario to spend as much as C$1600 per month in childcare. Luckily, the Canadian government is working hard to subsidize the costs. It is expected that, by 2026, childcare throughout Canada will cost no more than C$10 per day.

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