Study says Windsor has the lowest preschool child care costs in Ontario

Day care costs in Windsor are lower than the rest of province but rank about the middle of the pack when compared to the rest of country.

The Rose City ranks in the middle of pack nationally when it comes to costs

Windsor day cares among the cheapest in province, but still among most expensive across Canada. (CBC News)

The average cost of preschool child care in Windsor is the lowest in Ontario, according to a new study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). 

But the city is only in the middle of the pack when compared to cities across the country.

Parents of preschoolers pay on average $781 per month — 11th highest in Canada. The cost for a toddler is $879 per month, which is 10th highest and $989 for infants under 18 months old, which is ninth highest.

Rates for Toronto and Vancouver are among the highest. An infant fee in Toronto is $1,758 per month. 

But cities in Quebec have the lowest fees across all age categories: $168 a month in Montreal and $183 per month in Gatineau, Laval, Longueil and Quebec City.

It's a huge issue for low, modest, middle income families across the province.- Laurel Rothman, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

CCPA senior economist David Macdonald, said other provinces where the costs are lower set fees and make up the difference in costs with public funds.

 He added parents in Ontario pay market rates, which in most cases are increasing at a higher rate than inflation. 

"So whether you're in Toronto or Windsor it's whatever the market will bear and there's no cap on fees and so it's whatever providers need to charge to cover their costs and make a profit margin in some cases," said Macdonald.

Most centres have waiting lists

The study also reveals most child care centres have waiting lists and rural fees are similar to ones in cities.

Windsor fees are increasing at about the rate of inflation.

Laurel Rothman, the interim public policy coordinator for the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care says the study echoes what parents are telling them.

"Child care is hard to find and when you find it it's hard to afford it and it's a huge issue for low, modest, middle income families across the province," said Rothman.

The study comes on the heels of an announcement by the provincial government of the creation of an additional 45,000 child care spaces across Ontario.

Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky stated the costs make it difficult for average to low income families to afford child care and prevents some parents from entering the workforce.

She wants to see more funding for non-profit child care and "make sure that child care spaces are within reach."

Her party tried to make that law recently but the bill did not pass. A private members bill from an NDP MPP calling for the elimination of waiting list fees however is now law.

Parents and others reacting to the study on the CBC Windsor Facebook page had varying opinions. Some say they pay more than the average costs in the study.

The Coalition for Better Child Care will be pushing for changes to the provincial funding policies in pre-budget submissions.

Dale Molnar