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Here's how Canada is doing on its $10-a-day child care promise: report

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O'Neill, Natasha
Publication Date: 
27 Oct 2023


A new report assessing the status of the federal government's $10-a-day child-care policy has found the country is "making solid progress."

Published on Thursday, the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) looked at 37 cities across the country to assess whether child-care fees are decreasing.

All provinces and territories agreed to meet a cost reduction of 50 per cent by December 2022. The full implementation of $10-a-day child care is set for 2025 to 2026.

"These are ambitious goals and they won't happen overnight," Jenna Sudds, minister of families, children and social development, told in an interview. "But I continue to see examples every week of the progress that we're making."

The CCPA conducted 11,000 phone calls with licensed child-care providers between March 14 and May 3, 2023. The report summarized fees by city using the median, which means there could be "variation" of costs for parents across the country.

It found that of 32 cities committed to cutting fees by 50 per cent, 18 achieved the target. Furthermore, about one-fifth and one-quarter of the 32 cities — depending on the age group — reduced fees by 40 to 47 per cent respectively.


However, some cities, including Calgary, Burnaby, B.C., Richmond, B.C. and Surrey, B.C., that did not reach the first benchmark by December 2022 missed the target by a "bigger margin."


The expectations for the provinces and territories included three parts: fee reduction, the creation of child-care spaces and support for the workforce.


"There are some cities or communities still within the country where the median fee is higher than the target of 50 per cent," Sudds said. "I think we're seeing that because in those communities, there's a higher proportion of for-profit care that has opted out of the system. We continue to work with the provinces and territories to ensure that childcare centres — whether they be for-profit or not-for-profit — are well informed of the program benefits."


Many municipalities across Canada have improved child-care costs, the data shows.

Quebec has achieved child care for under $10 a day for several years and should be seen as an example, Sudds said.



Despite several initial successes in implementing the program, Gordon Cleveland, associate professor of economics at the University of Toronto-Scarborough, said expanding the number of child-care spaces is also important.


The report notes expanding not-for-profit centres is one of the ways more parents can have access to child care, but Cleveland said, many of these organizations don't have the infrastructure or capacity to build more centres independently.

"You actually have to do quite a lot at the governmental level, to make it possible for the non-profits to expand," he said. "So all of these provinces and territories have promised that there will be majority not-for-profit expansion and almost none — there's a couple of exceptions — are doing enough to make that happen."

To successfully expand, Cleveland said governments also need to focus on improving wages for workers.