Study reveals highest and lowest child care fees in Canadian cities in 2017

December 12, 2017

OTTAWA—A new study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) updates the most and least expensive cities for child care in Canada. Fees have risen faster than inflation in 71% of the cities since last year, and in 82% of cities since 2014.

The study, the fourth in a series, provides an annual snapshot of median parental child care fees in Canada’s 28 biggest cities for full-time care of infants, toddlers and preschoolers. For the first time ever, the study also includes child care fees in selected rural areas.

“Child care fees in most of Canada are still outpacing inflation, and for many they were too expensive to begin with,” says CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald. “On top of that, wait lists are nearly universal although wait list fees are declining after being banned in Ontario. It’s clear public policy matters to affordability.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • The Greater Toronto Area and Metro Vancouver have the highest fees for infants. Toronto has the highest infant fees, at $1,758 a month or $21,096 a year. Mississauga (ON) and Vaughan (ON) follow at over $1,400 a month;
  • Preschooler spaces, the most numerous type, have a median fee in Toronto of $1,212 a month, but close behind at around $1,000 a month are: Mississauga (ON), Brampton (ON), Vaughan (ON), Markham (ON), London (ON), Ottawa (ON), Calgary (AB), Richmond (BC), Kitchener (ON) and Vancouver (BC);
  • Since 2014, preschool fees rose the most in Toronto, six times faster than inflation (21.4%). Since 2016, Richmond (BC) saw the biggest hike in preschool fees: up 12%, or 10 times faster than inflation;
  • Cities in Quebec continue to have the lowest fees across all age categories: $168 a month in Montreal and $183 a month in Gatineau, Laval, Longueuil, and Quebec City;
  • New data for rural Ontario and Alberta show fees in those areas are not significantly cheaper than in nearby cities;
  • The lowest fees are consistently in the cities of Quebec, Winnipeg and Charlottetown. Here governments set low fees and provide direct grants to providers, using public policy to prioritize affordable child care;
  • Most of the cities surveyed reportedthat at least 70% of child care centres maintained waiting lists, although wait list fees are on the decline.

“Where Canadians live largely determines whether they will be able to access affordable child care,” says Martha Friendly, Executive Director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit. “Governments that set fees and provide operational funding consistently have the lowest child care fees, compared to areas where the market is left to decide what families will pay.”


Time Out: Child care fees in Canada 2017 is available for download on the CCPA website. For more information contact Alyssa O’Dell, CCPA Media and Public Relations: 613-563-1341 x307, [email protected] or cell 343-998-7575.