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It’s time to invest more in universal child care

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Child care fees in Toronto have skyrocketed by 21.4 per cent in the last three years, causing some parents to wonder whether they can afford to have another child. The federal government must invest in universal child care as other progressive countries do.
Author: 
Star Editorial Board
Publication Date: 
17 Dec 2017
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Toronto is already the most expensive city in Canada when it comes to child care, and the situation keeps getting worse.

A new study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives finds that median fees for preschoolers have jumped 21.4 per cent or $214 a month, in the past three years. That’s almost six times faster than inflation.

Fees are now $1,212 a month, or $14,544 a year. And median monthly fees are even higher for infants at $1,758 and toddlers at $1,354. An average couple with two young kids could end up paying close to half its after-tax income on child care alone.

No wonder then that parents like Caroline Starr and Matt Reid, who pay $1,600 a month in child care fees for their 3-year-old preschooler Charlie, are wondering whether they can afford to have a second child.

It is unconscionable that parents in a country as rich as Canada are forced to make these kinds of heart-wrenching decisions. But too many are.

The solution? The federal government should work toward creating an affordable, universal child care program for families across the country. It only makes sense. Study after study has shown it would help women get back into the work force, boost family incomes, close the wage gap between men and women, improve early childhood skills for poor kids, add to government coffers — and, most importantly, reduce child poverty.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau need only look at Quebec to see the immense advantages of providing universal child care on a national scale.

There, fees range from $168 to $183 a month depending on parents’ ability to pay. As a result, even though the province has the second-lowest household income level in the country, it also has the second-lowest rate of child poverty. Statistics Canada says that is thanks to having the lowest child care costs and the most generous child benefits of anywhere in the country.

-reprinted from Toronto Star

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Entered Date: 
3 Jan 2018
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