Not all of Canada will meet child-care fee reduction targets in 2022: CCPA

By The Canadian Press and Hana Mae Nassar

A new study says while Canadian child-care fees are set to drop this year, some parts of the country will likely not meet the federal government’s fee-reduction targets.

The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) says this is because provinces and territories are taking different approaches to try to meet the government’s initial goals.

“Broadly speaking, most cities and most age groups will miss the federal targets. They won’t miss them by much, but they will miss them,” said David Macdonald, study co-author and senior economist at the CCPA.

He says the challenge of setting up the national child-care plan is making sure it is correctly implemented.

“My hope is that over time, it will become clear that we should be moving just to a set-fee system. So, these are $30-a-day this year, and then go down to $20 next year, and then they go down to $10 the year after, and it’s very predictable for parents, very clear that you’re hitting the targets,” Macdonald explained.

For preschool-aged child care, seven of 26 cities included in the study’s analysis, including Whitehorse and Regina, will meet or exceed federal targets in 2022, while 15 cities, including Lethbridge, Alta., and Halifax, will miss them by $20 to $100 a month.

The four cities the study says will miss their targets by more than $100 a month are Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, and Charlottetown.

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The government’s national plan aims to cut average fees in half for regulated early learning and child-care spaces by the end of the year, and bring $10-a-day child care to every province and territory by 2026.

B.C. was the first province to sign on to the federal government’s national child-care program last July. Under the agreement, Ottawa promised $3.2 billion to add 30,000 regulated care spaces by the end of 2026 and 40,000 by the end of 2028.

B.C. Premier John Horgan made universal $10-a-day child care a key election promise in 2017 when his New Democrats formed a minority government. The B.C. government launched its child-care program in 2018, with the expectation of having about 12,500 licensed, $10-a-day child-care spaces operating by the end of the year, according to the Coalition of Child Care Advocates for British Columbia.

In March, Ontario signed a deal to bring $10-a-day child care to the province by 2025. As part of the plan, families would start receiving rebates cutting fees by up to 25 per cent in May, as well as a further cost reduction in December by 50 per cent. The move was expected to save families an average of $6,000 a year.

Quebec implemented its own universal child-care program in 1997 and has more than 200,000 children in subsidized child care.

-With files from Meredith Bond

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