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Child care costs in Vancouver 2nd highest in Canada: study
Published Tuesday, December 12, 2017 3:31PM PST Last Updated Tuesday, December 12, 2017 7:01PM PST
The cost of child care in Vancouver is the second highest in Canada, according to newly released data.
A study published Tuesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that the median cost of child care for an infant in the city is $1,360 or $16,320 a year.
Child care for toddlers is nearly $1,300 a month, second only Toronto.
Care for Vancouver preschoolers is somewhat cheaper at $950 a month.
"I think it won't be surprising to most B.C. parents who know that child care is becoming increasingly unaffordable in the city," said CCPA economist Iglika Ivanova.
The data show municipalities such as Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey are cheaper than Vancouver. Overall, however, these cities remain among the most expensive in the country.
Other Toronto-area cities such as Vaughan, Markham and Mississauga also topped the list with average monthly costs well above $1,000 a month.
The study also found that child care costs are outpacing inflation in most of the country. Overall, fees in Metro Vancouver are rising between two and three times faster than inflation, according to Ivanova.
"Those are increases that outstrip the growth of incomes for most families, so we have these families with young children struggling between the rising cost of housing and the rising cost of child care," she said.
"This is getting so bad that it's no longer just an issue for low-income families and it's no longer just an issue for single mothers. It really is becoming a big problem for middle-class families."
Cities in Quebec continue to have the lowest fees thanks to the province's $7-a-day child care plan. The average monthly cost of child care in Montreal is just $168—less than 15 per cent of the cost in Vancouver.
Quebec's subsidized child care program was first implemented in the late 1990s. The province currently has a flat fee of $7.75 a day and an additional charge for families with an annual income of $51,000 or more. Fees range all the way up to a total of $21.20 for families that make more than $161,000.
During the 2017 election, B.C. Premier John Horgan campaigned on a promise that the NDP would bring $10-a-day childcare to the province.
Once the party signed a pact with Andrew Weaver's Greens to topple the province's previous Liberal government, however, the wording of that commitment became vaguer, saying only that the new government would work to expand spaces, reduce costs and make child care more accessible.
Parents who depend on affordable child care say any relief would be welcome.
"It seems like things are just getting more costly as the years go on," said Scott Arner, adding that he and his partner were eventually forced to alternate taking extended leaves from work in order to raise their three children.
"I don't know how that would happen, but I'd love to see it change."
The astronomical prices are also limiting the careers of parents struggling to afford child care, Ivanova said, and ultimately, the B.C. economy.
"Mothers in Quebec and B.C. were equally likely to work until Quebec introduced child care. Now, in Quebec, mothers with young children are a lot more likely to participate in the workforce,” she said.
Some parents, she added, are resorting to unlicensed daycare centres where conditions might not be up to provincial standards.
"There have been tragedies in this province with children dying," Ivanova said.
The NDP has also promised to create 22,000 new childcare spaces in the next three years and to train more early childhood educators.
"We need to train people and we need to pay them adequately they're going to go on to another profession," Horgan said.
On Tuesday, Horgan told CTV News there would be several child care provisions in the 2018 budget. The details, however, remain unclear.
The premier also said his government is looking to partner with Ottawa on the issue, adding that it would be "fantastic if the federal government was at the table with us, but not essential."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber