Child care fees report highlights need for universal system in Manitoba

Fees stable, but too high for many, and private market fees are among the highest
March 12, 2020

Winnipeg, MB  — A new national study on child care fees released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), underscores the need for immediate action to create a universal, publicly-funded, child care system in Manitoba.

“The reality is that the fees parents pay, while stable, are too high for many, and fewer and fewer low-income parents are able to access subsidized child care,” says Molly McCracken, CCPA Manitoba director and steering committee member of the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba. “The system is clearly under strain.” 

The new fee survey, conducted in October 2019, shows child care for infants 0-2 years old cost $7,812/ year and $5,416/ year for toddlers and preschool-age children 2-5 years old. But when it comes to private market fees, outside the set fee system, Winnipeg’s fees for infants are the second highest of any city studied at $1,675/month, just below Toronto’s median fee of $1,774. Winnipeg’s market fees ranked 13th and 12th highest out of 37 cities for toddlers and preschool-age children, respectively. Compared only to other cities with private markets but provincially-set fees (Quebec cities and St. John’s), Winnipeg’s infant and toddler fees are by far the highest.

Annual operating funding in Manitoba for non-profit child care centres (95% of centres) has been frozen since 2016, with no increases even to account for inflation. This is putting downward pressure on staff wages, essential supplies and healthy snacks. And yet, the province actually underspent money budgeted for child care by $9 million or 5% in 2018-19 as described in the Change Starts Here: Manitoba Alternative Provincial Budget 2020 child care chapter. 

Background on child care in Manitoba:

●      Market fees in Winnipeg are two and a half times higher than the provincial set fee, depending on the age group. Private market fees in Winnipeg were $1,675/month for infants, $1,031/month for toddlers and $963/month for preschool-age children.

●      Earlier research from the CCPA in 2014 found Winnipeg women spent 15% of pre-tax income on child care, roughly equivalent to two months salary.

●      The number of low-income families receiving a subsidy for child care is steadily shrinking. In 2016 it was the case that 23.7% of all families received a subsidy, or 8,121 children. It is down to 17.2%, or 6,442 children, in 2019. A single parent of one child has to be severely below the poverty rate with a household income of less than $16,420 to qualify for a child care subsidy and still pays $2/ day or $1,040/ year.

“The way to keep child care fees affordable in Canada is to cap them, but to also provide sufficient direct support to public, non-profit providers. Expanding Winnipeg's already very expensive market system would substantially increase fees for parents," adds David Macdonald, study co-author and CCPA senior economist.


In Progress: Child care fees in Canada’s big cities 2019 is available for download on the CCPA website, where city-by-city data can be found. For more information contact Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Media and Public Relations Officer: 613-563-1341 x307, cell 343-99-7575 or [email protected].

The CCPA is an independent, non-profit charitable research institute founded in 1980.