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Child care costs a small fortune in Vancouver: survey

Last Updated Dec 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm PDT

(Courtesy Flickr: mzn37)

The median cost for infant child care, according to new research, is more than $1,300 for Vancouver parents

CCPA also finds Vancouver is the city where it's hardest to find care

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The crushing cost of child care is continuing to rise according to a new survey from a left-leaning think tank. Research from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives finds Vancouver parents are among those paying the most.

The CCPA canvasses child care providers around the country each year to get a sense of what people in different areas are paying and how much that has changed over time. Its third annual survey shows people in Toronto and its suburbs pay the highest fees.

The CCPA report shows it costs a family with two children under the age of five about $36,000 per year for childcare.

Vancouver isn’t far behind. It is, essentially, the second most expensive city in Canada for child care. The median cost is separated by age group. The median cost for infant child care (six months to a year and a half old) is $1,321 per month. For toddler care (one year and a half to three years old) it’s $1,325 per month.

The median cost for preschool (three to five-years-old) is less at $950 per month.

Executive Director Morna Ballantyne with the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada says the bill grew again this year. “It’s increasing pretty well across the board. Some parts of the country, it’s increasing at higher rates than others, but overall, we’re seeing an eight per cent increase in fees over all programs across the country.”

The survey also looked at availability by asking child care providers if they had parents on the wait list. Vancouver is one of the hardest places to find child care based on this criteria. About 96 per cent of child care centres in the city have wait lists.

Ballantyne says fees will continue to rise as long as child care as treated as a commodity.

“That’s really the solution, for governments to start treating childcare as a public service and fund and organize it as such. What we have right now in Canada pretty well across the board is child care being regarded as essentially as a commodity that is sold and purchased on a marketplace. Whenever you have a good that provided in that way, you’re going to get huge price fluctuations and for many families, that price is simply going to be out of reach.”

She thinks both provincial and federal governments need to work on creating a framework which would give funding directly to childcare providers instead of giving subsidy payments to individual families.