Child care in Canada: Types, cost, and tips for newcomers

Child care in Canada - living in cad

For newcomer parents, finding the right child care services is very important. From costs to service quality to availability, these are some of the worries parents have when considering and choosing childcare in Canada. In this post, we will review these topics so you are informed while making your child care choices.

Types of Child Care Available in Canada

The child care services available vary from province to province. Each province and territories have their own regulations for child care services. However, these services are split into the following:

1. Regulated Services: 

These are licensed and regulated by provincial and territorial authorities. They include centre-based full-day child care, regulated family child care, school-aged child care and most provinces/territories, nursery schools or preschools.

Amongst these types mentioned above, the popular ones are:

  1. Licensed care centres (or daycare): In these types of facilities, children from different families are cared for together by qualified staff.
  2. Licensed home care: Here, child care is provided in a caregiver’s home. These types of homes are usually supervised by a licensed agency.

For these services to be licensed, they must meet various conditions set by the province or territory. Some of them include:

  1. Physical space
  2. Sleep time
  3. Outdoor time
  4. Staff-child ratios
  5. Nutrition
  6. Health & safety
  7. Staff training requirements
  8. Record keeping requirements and so on. 

2. Unlicensed child care: Here, child care is provided by a caregiver (nanny, babysitter) selected by the parents, in the home of the parents of the child.

How much does child care cost in Canada?

There are a lot of factors that determine the amount you will pay for child care in Canada. They include the age of the child, your family’s income, your region, province or territory amongst others.

Below is how Canada classifies the age of children:

  • Infant: Children under two years of age.
  • Toddler: Children between 18 months to three years of age.
  • Preschool-age: Children between two-and-a-half years to kindergarten age (age four or five, depending on the province).

According to the fifth annual report on child care from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), infant child care in Toronto costs about $1,685 CAD per month while a preschool spot is $1,150 CAD per month.

child care in Canada
Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

According to the report, Vancouver has the highest cost for toddlers in the country at $1,407 CAD per month

Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Photo: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Are fees lower in some provinces?

As shown above, the cost of child care in Canada can be expensive. However, in some locations, the prices are lower. Quebec cities like Montreal, Gatineau, Laval, Longueuil, and Quebec City have one of the lowest rates. This is as a result of set-fee policies created by the province. These policies cap fees at $190 CAD per month regardless of the child’s age. Winnipeg also has lower fees. For example, infant child care has been set by the province at $651 CAD a month.

What is the waitlist & how long would I have to wait?

There are a limited number of childcare spaces available in Canada. Hence, parents that need child care would be put on a waitlist pending when a space becomes available.  Sometimes, some parents even get on a waitlist way before the child is born. In some regions, parents are required to pay a waitlist fee that ranges between $50 to $200 CAD or more. 

Helpful Tips for Newcomers

With what you have read so far in this post, you will realise that it is important to have your plan laid out when considering child care in Canada. Here a few tips:

  1. Create a Budget: Factor in the cost of child care into your family’s total monthly expense to have an idea of how much you will need to set aside for it
  1. Apply for Subsidies: A subsidy is a type of financial aid given by the government to reduce the amount you are to pay for child care. For example, if your child care fee was $50, the government might give you a subsidy of $10. With this you will be paying only $40. Provinces have various eligibility criterias for their subsidies. You can check their website or your nearest newcomer settlement centre for details.
  1. Child Care Benefit (CCB): This grant is given to eligible families living in Canada to help with the cost of raising children below the age of 18. Read more about it on the government of Canada’s website.

Read more>> Schooling in Canada for Newcomers

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