Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener child-care costs for preschoolers second highest in Canada, report says

A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says when it comes to preschool child-care costs, Kitchener has the second highest rate in the country.

Kitchener parents, guardians paying $100 each month than they were two years ago

A new report says Kitchener has the second highest childcare fees for preschoolers in the country. (Getty Images/Courtesy Region of Waterloo)

Child-care costs for preschoolers in Kitchener are the second highest in the country, a new report says.

The report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, called A Growing Concern, said the median monthly fee for an infant space at a regulated daycare in Kitchener is $1,320, a toddler spot is $1,140, while preschool is $1,031.

"For preschoolers, Kitchener is actually the second most expensive place in the country following Toronto, although it's fairly close to a lot of the cities in the GTA as well as Calgary and Vancouver, at close to $1,000 a month for preschool care," David MacDonald, a senior economist with the centre and co-author of the report, told The Morning Edition's host Craig Norris Monday.

Kitchener had the sixth-highest fee for monthly infant care – just one dollar behind Vancouver – and had the fifth-highest fees for toddlers.

Across the country, daycare costs have increased an average of eight percent over the past two years.

"That's a fairly large increase," MacDonald said. "Kitchener is more than that, at 11 per cent over the past two years – it's about four times the rate of inflation."

He said that means parents in Kitchener-Waterloo are spending $100 more each month than they were two years ago.

Toronto had the highest child-care fees in all categories and also saw prices rise 15 per cent in two years.

The report also noted low-income Ontario parents could qualify for a subsidy, which lowers the amount they pay monthly to $90.

Cost 'dramatically' more than other areas

The rate parents and guardians pay in Kitchener is "dramatically" more than Montreal, where the cost of $164 per month.

But MacDonald did acknowledge Quebec – just like Manitoba and Prince Edward Island – subsidize child care and set the rates.

Long wait lists and expensive fees are problems in much of the country, the report said.

In Kitchener, 90 per cent of daycare centres have a wait list, the report noted.

"Three things are clear from three years of surveying child-care fees in Canada's big cities. First, fees vary significantly across the country; they are lowest in provinces that set the fees provincially and they are highest in the cities where the market determines the price. Second, fees continue to rise rapidly, constraining the budgets of parents with young children. Third, low-income parents pay out of pocket for considerable sums in many of the cities surveyed (if they can afford to use regulated child care)," the report said.

It's a problem that can financially hurt families and something that could be fixed, MacDonald said.

"If we're interested in affordability, I think we have to seriously consider setting fees provincially, making up the difference to providers. That, in Canada, has been the formula for saving middle class parents money on child-care fees," he said.

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