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New IRPP research offers advice for rolling out $10/day child care across Canada

October 19, 2022 Print

Montreal – Child care costs across Canada are set to hit $10 a day by 2026, thanks to the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care agreements signed between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. As  governments plan their implementation strategies, a new report from the Institute for Research on Public Policy puts forward four key recommendations based on an analysis of the past 30 years of child care in the country.

In a new paper, University of Toronto professor emeritus Gordon Cleveland analyzes indicators of affordability, accessibility and quality of child care in Canada from the 1980s to today. He finds significant progress in many areas. But child care fees have continued to rise over time – and there has been mixed progress across provinces and territories on staff-child ratios, wages for early childhood educators and funding for low-income families.

Cleveland puts forward four recommendations to ensure governments will be able to hit the $10 a day target on schedule and improve quality.

  • Rapidly expand not-for-profit and public child care facilities. Provincial and territorial governments should provide substantial capital grants or loan guarantees to not-for-profit operators to accelerate a planned and co-ordinated expansion. Large jurisdictions should enable specialized development agencies to design, plan and build not-for-profit centres, and should encourage the delivery of more child care services by municipalities, colleges and school boards.
  • Increase the wages of early childhood educators. Pay for child care educators has improved little in 30 years and substantial raises are necessary to recruit and retain enough qualified early childhood educators.
  • Be prepared to inject more funding. The allocated $9 billion a year probably won’t suffice in high-fee jurisdictions. A cost-shared, federal-provincial supplementary financing program would make good fiscal and social sense for these jurisdictions. Governments can expect a substantial revenue boost from the increased labour force participation of primary caregivers.
  • Close gaps in maternity and parental benefits. There is a stark difference in the coverage and generosity of maternity and parental benefits provided by Quebec, which has its own program, and the rest of Canada, which relies on the federal Employment Insurance program. The federal government should address these gaps in its modernization of Employment Insurance. This shift should be supported by encouraging greater participation of fathers in parental leave and providing income to currently ineligible parents during the first year of their child’s life.

“If the rest of Canada is going to avoid many of the teething problems Quebec faced in building an affordable child care system,” Cleveland cautions, “federal, provincial and territorial governments need to take proactive steps to ensure that the quality and accessibility of care are not harmed in the process. We are at the beginning of this new stage of the journey, rather than at the end; it is no time to relax and declare victory.”


Early Learning and Child Care in Canada: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going? by Gordon Cleveland can be downloaded from the IRPP’s website (irpp.org).

Media contact: Cléa Desjardins – 514-245-2139 – cdesjardins@nullirpp.org

Early Learning and Child Care in Canada: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?

Early Learning and Child Care in Canada: Where Have We Come From, Where Are We Going?

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Media Contact

Cléa Desjardins
Communications Director
Tel. 514-245-2139 • cdesjardins@irpp.org