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Child care arrangements, 2023

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Statistics Canada
Publication Date: 
5 Dec 2023


In 2023, just over half (56%) of children aged 0 to 5 years were in licensed or unlicensed child care in Canada. While this rate was higher than it was in both 2022 (52%) and 2020 (52%), it has not yet reached the 2019 pre-pandemic level, when 60% of children in this age group were in child care.


Participation in centre-based child care surpasses pre-pandemic level, but it remains lower for home-based child care

While the overall proportion of children aged 0 to 5 years in child care in 2023 remained lower than the pre-pandemic 2019 rate, there were differences by the type of child care arrangement used. In 2023, just over one-third (34%) of children in this age group attended centre-based care, a higher proportion than was recorded in 2019 (31%) for the first time.

In contrast, the use of home-based child care in 2023 did not return to pre-pandemic levels. In 2023, 9% of children aged 0 to 5 years attended home-based child care, which is a lower rate than that from 2019 (12%) but similar to that from 2022 (8%).


A higher proportion of parents report difficulty finding child care in 2023 

The proportion of parents who used child care and who reported having difficulty finding it increased from 36% in 2019 to 49% in 2023. Difficulty finding available care remained the top challenge for parents, and the proportion of those reporting this difficulty increased from 53% in 2019 to 62% in 2023. Finding affordable care also remained a common concern among parents, but the proportion of those reporting this declined from 48% in 2019 to 41% in 2023.

Difficulties in finding child care often resulted in negative impacts on the working life of families. For example, in 2023, similar to other years, the top impacts among these parents were having to change their work or study schedules (34%), having to work fewer hours (33%) or postponing a return to work (31%).


Parental expenses for child care decrease from 2022 to 2023 


In 2019, 2020 and 2022, parental child care expenses for children aged 0 to 5 years in full-time care were similar, averaging over $600 per month in each year. In 2023, however, the average amount parents paid for their main full-time arrangement decreased to $544 per month from $649 in 2022. In 2023, nearly two-thirds (65%) of children in care attended full-time.


As a result of the decrease in average expenses for centre-based child care in 2023, average expenses for home-based child care were higher than those for centres. This contrasts with 2022, when the average expenses parents paid for centre-based care were higher than those for home-based child care.