Parents facing challenges finding space in programs
REANNA JULIEN STAFF REPORTER
As child care becomes more affordable in Canada, finding a space in programs remains an issue, according to a newly released Statistics Canada report.
The report, released Tuesday, outlines how child care has evolved since before the pandemic. It reflects changes to the industry including the national $10-a-day child care plan.
The average amount Canadian parents paid for their main full-time child care was $544 per month in 2023, compared to $649 in 2022, but challenges persist.
The amount of parents who reported having difficulty finding adequate child care increased to 62 per cent from 53 per cent in 2019. However, the report emphasized younger children were more likely to be waiting for a spot than older children, with 26 per cent of children ages five and under not currently in child care on a wait-list.
This is despite the change in the type of care children 5 and under received this year. Just over 34 per cent of children attended centre-based care, in comparison to 31 per cent in 2019.
The use of home daycares, on the other hand, fell to nine per cent from 12 per cent in 2019.
In 2023, only 48 per cent of children aged 0 to 5 in Ontario were in child care, compared to 54 per cent in 2019.
Carolyn Ferns, a policy co-ordinator with Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare, said the finding is not surprising, as it costs more money to meet regulations requiring a higher staff to child ratio for children under five. What’s driving the shortage of space in Ontario, Ferns said, is the province’s child-care crisis, despite the federal-provincial child-care plan that involved opening up 86,000 new spaces by 2026.
“Although there are many families looking for space and the need to expand child-care spaces, it’s being held back by the workforce crisis.”
The staffing shortages come as Ontario’s early childhood educators were among the lowest paid in the country. A pay increase — almost 20 per cent — to a minimum of $23.86 is coming in January 2024, but daycare advocates are seeking $30 to $40 an hour.
Thirty-five per cent of parents decided against child care preferring to have one parent stay home, while 28 per cent reported being on parental leave. Other parents, 23 per cent, found the cost of care to be too pricey, while the rest are stuck on a waiting list due to a shortage in space.
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited