How much parents benefit from the national child-care plans depends on where they live

Michael and Lindsay McTavish with their three children, Liam (6 months), Ethan (5) and Parker (2) play on July 7, 2022 at a park in Calgary, Alta. Parents will pay different childcare fees under $ 10. a day program depending on what province they are in. Leah Hennel / Globe and MailLeah Hennel / The Globe and Mail

When Michael McTavish’s Calgary Daycare signed to the National Child Care Plan earlier this year, the broker and his wife, who work in human resources, saw the monthly bill for their two children drop to $ 1,451 from $ 2,350.

This is more than families in Prince Edward Island and British Columbia currently pay, but a much greater saving than a similar family would come to Manitoba. In that province, a family where both parents earn more than $ 83,000 in joint net income will not see any reduction in their child care account.

The Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, which promises to make more daycare places available and affordable, is so often referred to as the $ 10-a-day childcare plan that many parents can accept that they will all pay the cost. the same fixed rate, as in the much-discussed Quebec system. But the goal of the national agreement is to achieve an average 50 percent reduction in fees by the end of this year, and then to an average of $ 10 per day – not necessarily a fixed fee for everyone – by 2026 Provinces and territories, each of which has signed separate agreements with the federal government, have room to maneuver in how they choose to achieve that average. Most families will see savings, but some will not see at all.

“There is no consistency across provinces and territories at this time specifically for affordability,” said Don Giesbrecht, chief executive officer of the Canadian Child Care Federation.

In Ontario, the savings that families enjoy will depend on which region of the province calls them home. A mother in the York area who pays $ 72 a day and a father in Sudbury who pays $ 31 will both see their fees reduced by 25 percent by the end of this year if their centers enroll in the program – but it still means that one will pay $ 54 per day and the other will pay $ 23.25.

In Alberta, costs are determined by a family’s wages. A family with a combined gross income of up to $ 119,999 will pay $ 10 per day, while those earning between $ 120,000 and $ 179,000 will pay between $ 11 and $ 17 per day.

In PEI, fees were reduced to a fixed rate of $ 25 per day, down from $ 27 to $ 34 per day, from January 1st. Another cut will come in October, lowering fees to $ 20 a day. But the province does not yet know if it will continue with the set fee approach beyond that.

“We are still working out all the details for that average of $ 10,” said Doreen Gillis, director of early childhood development for the province.

In BC, families pay $ 10 a day regardless of household income, although so far there are only 6,500 spaces in the $ 10-a-day program.

Yet it makes a big difference in the lives of some parents.

“It was great. If I did not get $ 10 a day, it would not make sense to work, ”says Ana Valle Rivera, an entrepreneur with two children in care who lives in the Tri-Cities area. “Everything in the Lower Continent is so expensive. The point is to support families, no matter what their income is. ”

It is not so in Manitoba, where an expansion of the province’s subsidy system is being used to meet the affordability targets of the national plan.

“Nobody is going to dispute that affordability is a good thing for families. We want all families to have access to affordable, equitable childcare. This is not for discussion. But what becomes affordable for all families is up for discussion, ”says Jodie Kehl, executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association.

In Manitoba, households with an average net income of $ 23,883 to $ 37,116 will be eligible for a full subsidy. Households with an average net income of $ 37,542 to $ 82,877 will be eligible for a partial subsidy.

“It’s a mess here in Manitoba,” says Cathy Gardiner, who runs a child care center in Winnipeg. “Basically what they did is that they indexed the subsidy, so it really does not make childcare more affordable for everyone as the plan is supposed to do.”

Ms Gardiner compares childcare to the public education system.

“Rich people no longer pay to send their children to school,” she says. “It must be the same system. Everyone has equal, fair access. “

But while a fixed-rate model may seem simple, even $ 10 a day can be unaffordable for some families, says Mr. Giesbrecht.

“For many, $ 10 a day is still out of reach, it is too much. There should be a scenario where really low-income families and Canadians get it for free, compared to families who are a little more affluent, paying more. “

Yet, even for the families who pay more, rates should still be “overpriced,” he adds.

What mr. As for McTavish, with two children in child care and a third set to enter it in the new year, he and his wife are happy to be able to save any money on their daycare bills, especially at a time when the cost of living is increasing. “We are happy that we were able to afford the full amount, but regardless, it is still nice to be able to put that money for other things, whether it is savings or basic things or activities for the children,” he says.

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