Not Done Yet

$10-a-day child care requires addressing Canada’s child care deserts
May 15, 2023
4.67 MB50 pages
Click here to read the full report.

As $10-a-day child care is rolling out across Canada, one of the major remaining stumbling blocks is that there simply aren’t enough child care spaces to meet the demand.

This report examines the availability of child care spaces by postal code across the country and finds child care deserts to be widespread: there were an estimated 759,000 full-time licensed spaces for younger children across Canada in centres and family child care homes in 2023. Of the 1.97 million younger children who might be using those spaces, 48 per cent live in child care deserts.

That means that almost half of younger Canadian children (defined as not yet attending Kindergarten) live in a postal code that has more than three children for every licensed child care space.

The report also looks beyond postal codes, examining child care coverage rates in 50 Canadian cities, including all provincial and territorial capitals. 

By the beginning of 2023, most parents with young children will have noticed a substantial reduction in child care fees. This will certainly help with the strained household budgets of those young families who are lucky enough to be accessing a high-quality licensed child care space. The choice to dramatically reduce child care fees is a necessary one. It’s not only a pocketbook issue that people can get behind, but also a fundamental element of creating a widely accessible and equitable child care system. But the Canada-wide early learning and child care project is about more than parent fees; it must also include the other initiatives that are critical to the proper implementation of the overall project.

Not surprisingly, most provinces/territories have a long way to go to make their lower-fee child care available to most parents and, as all evidence shows, child care expansion isn’t something that can simply be left to the “market” if we don’t want to perpetuate inequitable access. Much more public planning and public management will be required to ensure a more impactful approach.

Ce rapport est aussi disponible en français.