The Crippling Cost of Daycare in Ontario

My oldest son went into daycare when he turned one. His mother's parental leave ended, and she went back to work. James started daycare, and I still remember the day I was told how much it costs to put a 12 month old in daycare in this city.

It cost so much, when my oldest daughter was born, it didn't make financial sense to put her in daycare at one. That would mean two kids in daycare, and we'd be poorer than if their mother quit her job and stayed home. That's exactly what we did.

I'm experiencing the exact same scenario a decade later. My youngest son has been in daycare since he turned one and his mother went back to work. My wife is now on parental leave with our newborn, but in exactly eleven months, that will end.

The Star has an article today on the proposed provincial changes to age groupings, staff-child ratios and group sizes. The end result will be fewer spaces and higher fees.

If you put your kid in daycare at 12 months, it's about $1800 a month until they turn 18 months. Then, the price plummets to a mere $1200. So with the current fee structure, it will cost us $3000 a month when my wife's parental leave expires.

The costs are already crippling, yet we're looking at increases of 20-40%. There has to be a better system.

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The costs are definitely high, however, what is the solution?

I've read more and more about demands to stop these unlicensed daycare places that have too many kids and don't care for them appropriately.

So now they are putting tougher regulations. And in turn it costs more.
$3000/month seems (and is) very high. But broken down its $75/day for each child. And that breaks down to about $10.25/hr.
For day care providers it isn't that lucrative of an income either.

I remember the costs of daycare and it felt crippling. Especially when the provider took holidays that I still had to pay for.
I just don't know the solution.

April 13, 2016 @ 9:55 AM


Full day Kindergarten was a good start.

We need the government to cancel the stupid child tax credits, and bring back subsidized daycare. If we, as a society, are truly serious about providing the best for our next generation-- and holding our mothers aloft as heroes (which they are), then it's time to actually support them.

I do understand WHY daycare is expensive. The insurance is astronomical. The staffing requirements are fierce in order to maintain the correct (and safe) ratios. You WANT that level of quality from your daycare. But unfortunately, it's, as you say, crippling to expect someone to pay more in daycare than they would for rent / mortgage.

And it's absolutely ridiculous that there even exists a value proposition of "it's easier for me to quit my job than have my child taken care of". Because while it may pay out in the short term (and may be the only choice), it's absolutely crippling in the long term. A parent who makes this choice:

- Loses out on long term savings and RRSP payments
- Has a huge gap in their resume, which is devastating in the jobmarket
- Loses out on 2+ years of seniority and experience, which harms their ability to advance, get raises, etc
- Has an uphill battle to face against societal bullcrap: Might not even be able to get back into the job market, because they'll be seen as "too old", or a liability who will "just pump out another kid and vanish for years".

It's a false dichotomy that we're forcing so many parents to face, and it's wrong.

April 13, 2016 @ 9:58 AM

Vern's Garage and Convenience Store, Bullmont, Ontario

In terms of daycare surely there is some sort of successful childcare model (Sweden? Norway?) we can follow.

April 13, 2016 @ 10:14 AM

John M.

Raising children is expensive but it is a choice.

Some people choose to have children and some people choose not to have children.

Why should those who choose not to have children have to pay for those who do?

April 13, 2016 @ 10:28 AM


@ John M.
Because that's what civilized societies do. We help pay for parks we might not visit, pools we might never swim in, shelters we (hopefully) will never sleep in, roads we never drive on. I am happy to pay my fair share of taxes so that, for example, if you break your leg and it's your fault, you receive appropriate care.

By your argument, perhaps people who don't have children should not have access to the well-educated doctor who will fix your broken leg and who was created & raised by someone who chose to have children.

April 13, 2016 @ 10:45 AM


I have no children and am willing and able to pay more than my share of taxes. however, when you have a child or multiple children you have to budget for them and unfortunately that includes the high cost of quality daycare. I don't see it as a government problem.

April 13, 2016 @ 10:57 AM


@Vern: In terms of daycare surely there is some sort of unsuccessful childcare model (USA?) we can follow. =(

@GUNTer: Putting aside the entire argument of "everyone benefits from a healthy, educated next generation"-- it isn't that it is an expense. It's that it's an extremely high expense that's out of line with the reasonable income levels of anyone who would need that service. The high expense comes from government regulation (you MUST have so many staff for each child). You can't change that variable-- the ratios exist for a very, very good reason. So there are other variables that have to be changed. If the expense is imposed by the government, then we're looking to the government to assist with the solution.

"unfortunately oh well" doesn't cut it.

April 13, 2016 @ 11:11 AM

Nigel Trousershrapnel

Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien first introduced a national child-care plan in the 1993 Red Book which was prepared by the federal Liberals for the national election that year. The Liberal government was ready to offer $720 million over three years, to be matched by the provinces but it never happened. My son was born in 1994 and when my daughter came along in 1997, I left my job to stay home with the kids for two years after my (ex)wife's parental leave ended. Tough choice but it made financial sense at the time.
Fast forward 23 years to 2016. My priorities have shifted somewhat. Two kids in university costing me approximately $40k (after tax dollars) per year and they will still have student loans to contend with once they've finished.

Suffice it to say you'll get a lot of promises from governments at all levels, but in 23 years there has been little or no movement on the child care front and in spite of all the promises around the cost of university, I anticipate little or no action on that front either.

Imagine how those billions of dollars wasted by the provincial Liberals and others could have impacted both.

April 13, 2016 @ 11:20 AM


The argument of "I don't have kids so I shouldn't pay" is about as valid as the following arguments:

I ride a bike so I shouldn't pay for highways.
I drive so I shouldn't pay for public transit.
I don't have kids so I shouldn't pay for education.

All equally as ridiculous.

April 13, 2016 @ 11:27 AM


Stephen Lewis (speaking to Justin Trudeau) said that it's all well and good to define yourself as a feminist but unless there's a national child care program it's sort of empty.

April 13, 2016 @ 11:56 AM

Robin Hood

Nigel makes a good point about wasted millions/billions. What about this idea:
If the wealthy (1%) and corporations paid their fair share of taxes we'd have a lot more disposable resources to benefit society.

April 13, 2016 @ 12:11 PM


d - child care is (or should not be) a feminist issue. I know of many fathers who have taken time off of work because they were equal or lower income earners compared to the mother in order to save money from child care costs.

Toronto Mike - I don't know what your wife's work situation is, but if she is receiving maternity benefits from her work while on leave then you should complete a T1213 to reduce income tax deductions at source. Document the details of your monthly child care costs on the form, send it to the CRA, and they will (or should) give her employer permission to adjust income taxes at source based on this income tax deduction. You should only do this if she earns less "earned income" than you for the year (lower earning spouses get the deduction). If you earn less than her, then you should complete the form. However, if you are self-employed, then recalculate your monthly/quarterly income tax installments with this deduction accordingly.

Do this every year you have kids in daycare.

Child care deduction limit for 2015 was $8,000 for each kid born 2009 or later, $5,000 for each kid born 2008 to 1999. The limit for 2016 will probably be the same, just adjust the years up.

This should free up some cash flow to pay for the child care. Just know you won't get that nice refund next May.

April 13, 2016 @ 12:39 PM


Add to this, that Trudeau has removed Income splitting- which would GREATLY benefit those in these situations, where one parent has to stay home, and reports no income.

@John M. Surely you realize how ridiculous your argument is- because it's my children's tax money that will likely fund your healthcare and OAS in your later years.

With the squeezing of private daycare, the government has restricted the inventory of private in-home daycare- which will increases costs.

Yet another thing governments suck at- regulating business. They need to back the fek off, and stick to developing safety frameworks; and get out of private business.

April 13, 2016 @ 12:52 PM


I now live in the UK. When I had to go back to work the local daycares were too expensive, so we found a local childminder in their home just a couple streets over (regulated, with yearly visits unless they move location or there is a cause for concern). This is very popular where we live in West London. They charge £8 per hour regardless of the age, and I head into work early and my husband drops her off, and then I can pick her up early to save money. In our case, the childminder is actually a married couple, plus two registered childminders, and about 12 kids (depending on the day, and pick ups after school and nursery). My daughter is thriving in the 'home' setting and the small group means they are out in the park or doing local activities every day. It took a lot of work to find someone we were comfortable with, had a safe and clean environment, and was active in having a structured, engaging day for the kids. At the same time, because she has a great reputation, the childminder can cherry-pick the kids she has so it's a balanced group with a couple kids in each age group. And having a male childminder is great because it adds a different dynamic. (He's also Spanish and does the cooking. Lucky kids). If we have another child it will be affordable to keep both of them there and return to work, with money left over.

Also popular is au pairs - often french girls in their early 20's that come to the UK for english experience. They are offered free room and board, and a small weekly allowance (£80 or so), and during the day and some evenings (for extra money) they act as a babysitter or mother's helper. Friends have done this, but the turnover rate is high and obviously you have a stranger living in your home.

April 13, 2016 @ 1:21 PM


I should also add that my husband and I part pay with childcare credits - it is tiered depending on your tax bracket, and there is no wage cut-off. A set amount is deducted from your pay before tax and put into an account that you can use to pay registered childminder's, and in return you save on the tax you would have paid. For us, it works out to over a free month of childcare.

April 13, 2016 @ 1:34 PM



Perhaps you could consider greener pastures & move elsewhere. You are in a industry that allows you to work remotely, correct?

The root of the high cost of life is the high cost of real estate. You can cut off your cable but you can't stop paying rent or a mortgage. You live in the 2nd most expensive city in Canada. I used to live in the first (Vancouver) so I get it. Maybe the solution is to investigate living elsewhere & build your life around that accordingly?

I think subsidized child care, in theory, is a logical idea. Unfortunately, we live in a world were we have to recognize limitations. If we do decide on publicly funded child support how will we pay. Canada (and especially Ontario) would have to raise taxes or slash and burn elsewhere to come out equal. Neither idea is politically palatable.

As a side note to all this (and this isn't directed at you Mike) I think our society has a problem with expectations. I bought my first condo in the early 90's in Brampton. It was best described as "utilitarian" but that was what a starter house was. Today, no such thing exists. The starter condo has marble counters, ceramic tiled floor & stainless appliances. We pay to have things like backup cameras on our 35K car because we apparently can't turn our head around anymore. "They" sell use the idea that it might stop from running over little Johnny in a parking lot (as if that happens frequently). The result is a huge swath of society is financially stressed to the max. But is that really that unexpected in a world where the Rogers family plan for cell phones costs $400.00 a month?

No wonder so many people don't have kids anymore. Hey, there is always the Tiny House movement. ;-)

April 13, 2016 @ 2:01 PM

Brian in Burlington

Unfortunately the government of the day believes that it can run the child care system better than the private sector. So we get full day Kindergarten, more unionized staff getting paid to watch young kids, and now an increase in the ratios to make private child care more expensive and drive more people into a public system, which is a giant bureaucracy that will only get bigger and more expensive over time.

I think we're getting very used to Montessori and other programs that basically start school way before Kindergarten. This are more than just child care, and are very expensive, but they've become the norm.

Like another poster mentioned, Income Splitting would have been very helpful in your situation, but Justin thinks it would make you a tax dodger.

April 13, 2016 @ 2:02 PM


I feel your pain Mike. The costs are brutal.
I find it hard not to resent my friends and coworkers who have grandparents to look after the kids.

April 13, 2016 @ 2:03 PM


Kudos to Mike for doing his part to keep our ever declining birth rate from collapsing. He's making up for those 30 & 40 something's who are one and done. I have friends like that - we all have friends like that.

That said, Irv is correct, Toronto is too damn expensive (and frankly it aint worth it) but that's just my opinion anyway. There is the option of moving which is what I and many other couples with children do. It sucks taking over an hour to get to work but life's never perfect.

Finally, I agree with those who say the government has to do more. If they want couples to have babies and keep the declining birth rate from tanking, they need to give people an incentive. Its in the interest of everyone - not just those with kids.

My two cents.

April 13, 2016 @ 2:47 PM

Chris in EY

I have three kids so I have experience. In the end it was our family's decision for my wife to leave the workforce. It's a decision that made us richer and poorer at the same time. But hey that's how choice works.

Unlike what a lot of people would have you believe you can't have it all. Child rearing takes sacrifice. Whether that's your tv packages, your smart phone, concerts or years of a career. It's not the government's job (they've done such a great job with education - why would you want the system to get their hands on your kids earlier?) to pay or subsidize. Nor is it right to live in expensive cities or neighbourhoods.

I do support a system that helps vulnerable people and their kids. As always though how is that defined?

Make no mistake though. Full day kindergarten is subsidized daycare.

April 13, 2016 @ 2:50 PM


I've been paying since my son was 12 months. It may have been around $1400 or $1500 back then. My son will be turning 11 at the end of this school year, and we still pay for an after school program at around $475 per month. That is alot of cash over the years. We are fortunate - there is still some left over for an RESP contribution, and some to play sports...

April 13, 2016 @ 2:57 PM


its not like living outside of Toronto is any cheaper..
Houses up in Bradford are up and around $650K or more. I know of houses in Bolton selling for over 800K ..and these aren't mansions or anything but 2400 sq feet homes..
so the average cost of a house are all up, not just in Toronto.

I will have to agree with one seems there is no first time home buyer home no longer..everything is top of the line (or made to look top of the line) in terms of materials.

April 13, 2016 @ 3:09 PM



Well those houses for $650,000 dollars in Bradford are 400 grand cheaper than the equivalent in Toronto. So they are a deal comparatively

But you can look at the option of moving outside the "commuter belt" of Toronto. Consider getting a job in Hamilton & commuting 45 minutes. I used to live in Waterloo and I often sit on and look at the cost of houses in Drayton, Milverton, Stratford, etc. For example, assume you find a job in the Region of Waterloo. You could live in Mitchell, a small town which is 65 kms away. A quick hit on Realtor.Ca and I found a decent looking house for 199K. Assuming you have some "big city equity" you'll probably get a nice chunk to put down on that house. Now, of course, you'll won't have a Starbucks on every corner, a wide selections of restaurants, etc, but kids don't give a shit about that, only adults do.

And you don't even need to go that far. I could find 3 bedroom townhouses in South Kitchener for 180K. They're in decent neighborhoods & you're close to most amenities. Here's the link. To me this looks like a place you could raise a kid or 2...

April 13, 2016 @ 3:34 PM


Its not just the homes that are cheaper in burbs, its also the cost of daycare.

As Amanda noted above, a nanny might be a better option when you have 2 or more kids in daycare.

April 13, 2016 @ 3:41 PM


full time nanny through an agency, assuming your ok with sponsoring is approx $1800/month full time live in.

@ Irv.. I see your point..but I'd like to be within 30 min of family and this is why I stick within the commuters belt.

April 13, 2016 @ 3:51 PM

oh and

Thank god we're not native parents fifty years ago when the nice people from church and state show up for the kids.

April 13, 2016 @ 3:55 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

I won't even consider moving because I share custody of my two oldest kids and their mom and I have a deal.

April 13, 2016 @ 3:56 PM

Dr No

This is a symptom of an overly greedy city where politicians, developers and estate agents are allowed far too much power to build, price and sell overinflated closets that pass for homes. More and more people flock to the city, less resources and infrastructure to deal with an ever increasing population and things like wait lists and price jacking being common.

I have lived in this city my whole life, before it was awash in transplants who wear toques saying "we the north", saying crap like "the 6", while knowing nothing of the place it used to be. It wasn't perfect, but the Toronto of my younger years was a much more affordable, reasonable and welcoming place. Kids actually played outdoors and people were still smug, but at least not as high on themselves as they are now for living in an expensive city.

On the other hand TM, and I mean no disrespect, you're deciding to have this many kids, so it kind of is your own issue. I want an Aston martin one day, but in order to get there it's not just about saving to buy it, but also having enough disposable income to pump 94 octane petrol, to get it repaired every 5 kilometers and to have parts shipped over from the UK when it breaks down. In other words, you had 2 before, so this shouldn't be news to you. That said, you are spot on in pointing out that it is insanely expensive.

April 13, 2016 @ 4:53 PM



Well I wasn't implying you should move, I was saying for some people in your situation it might be an option. Obviously with shared custody that might be more difficult.


Well obviously it's your choice to be near "family and friends". But we're discussing people who are moving away so they can have a traditional family role (stay at home parent). In that case the kids ARE the family and their interests should be put first. Generally if you're a stay at home parent you've probably not going to see your friends that much anyway ;-)

@oh and

I assume you are referring to the Residential School Act? Well technically compulsory attendance ceased in the 40's (if I recall) but the last school was closed in 1996. Of course the official mandate of those schools was far different than what really happened but parents were not aware of what happened. In fact some bands and parents petitioned to keep them open. Keep in mind information was rarely truthful IF it was even forth coming.

I understand your point. I've seen first hand the destruction those schools have did. I've worked on several reservations. For the most part I was welcomed but in a few cases I experienced real true "I hate your fucking guts you white devil and I wish you death" kind of hate. All from elders and those elders were all survivors. One was particularly nasty but I understood why she felt how she did. It didn't matter I was there to do good things. All she could see was this "white devil" standing there on her land..and I was probably a reminder of the evil, unspeakable things that happened to her while she was at school. The first day I drove on the Rez, I nearly shit my pants. I kept thinking why am I doing this and what have I got myself into. When the year was over, I walked away a far more enlightened human being. And I would go back there and do what I did again..without the blink of an eye.

PS. The sweat lodge is awesome. If you can go try it, do it.

April 13, 2016 @ 5:09 PM

twins from bolton

It's a couples choice to have children. What MOST couples DON'T consider is the next step after childbirth. My sons were born almost 25 years ago & it was the 1st year that maternity leave changed to 12 months from 9 months. Imagine if 9 months was still the law?

Of course we didn't realize costs after mat leave until we started looking into it early 1992 when they still were babies. Costs were very high & wife decided & was granted by her workplace a 2 year leave of absence from work (she also was diagnosed with Chrones disease during this time).

Just before kids 4th BDay - late 1994 - 2 kids in daycare $ 1500.00/month. Tough but stuck it out. Once they started Kindergarten dropped to $ 1200.00/month.

Condoms & other birth control methods are cheaper - LOL.
Well worth it now I look back on those days.

April 13, 2016 @ 6:28 PM

Ryan in Kitchener

Our population pyramid is getting more and more top heavy every year. We either encourage a boost to our birth rate, or we need to jack up immigration rates dramatically. Both have costs. Neither of these costs are as high as doing nothing and ending up with 50+% of our population in retirement. Don't think of it as subsidized childcare, think of it as an investment in the future tax base.

April 13, 2016 @ 7:00 PM

oh and

@ Irv

Thank you for those insights about the reservation.

April 13, 2016 @ 9:39 PM



You're correct in that "growing" our own population makes more sense than immigration. But maybe the declining birth rate isn't just about daycare, etc. Maybe it's not even about costs? I know a fairly substantial number of people who simply don't want kids is just not their thing? Perhaps their lives & their dreams are more important than having a family? In the whole scheme of things the world population is going to have to come down someday.

@oh and

Probably the least understood thing in Canada is the native reservation system & how they work. Misinformation abounds. The much touted "pay no income tax" is only for natives working on the Rez. If you're a native and you work off the Rez you pay taxes like everyone else. Housing may be "free" in the sense you don't pay for it. But it's not free in that you get what you're given. And the wait list is very long. Native land is essentially held in "trust" of sorts, so the construction of houses is difficult because the process is very slow and often mired in red tape with what was INAC (Indian Affairs). Hence, finding lenders becomes extremely difficult. And my knowledge of the whole system may seem informed but it's very limited. It was only through casual exposure.

Native culture isn't just one homogeneous society either. Mi'kmaq natives (English: Micmac) are as different from Blackfeet as Ontario from Quebec. And then you add in Inuit & Metis. There are dozens of languages, some which flourish, some which are near their death. The irony is technology is allowing these folks to save their languages. There are apps for many languages and Cree is being taught in college now. The local "band office" is embracing technology and their policing uses modern policing methods.

And one of the things rarely talked about is that native reserves are home to a true form of democracy (in some ways). There is a reservation near Calgary Alberta known as Tsuut'ina (properly said sue ten ah). The band negotiated a deal with the City of Calgary trading off some land so Calgary could build a ring road. The band received about $275 million dollars. After the deal was signed each and every resident (all ages) of Tsuut'ina received about 65K from the deal. This is called a disbursement or "profit sharing". This is common on reserves which have sources of revenue like casino's, etc. Imagine our government doing that? I assume you live in Ontario. Imagine you getting a cheque from the sales at the LCBO?

Life on the Rez can be pretty fascinating. The wildlife that is everywhere, the lack of fences, the pack of wild horses (at least out in my area of the country) and meeting people who can still "live off the land". The amount of collective "wisdom" possessed by elders is huge. I hope we, as a society, collect that wisdom before those elders are gone. Are there problems? Definitely. Drug use, family violence, etc, they all exist. But I personally feel younger native culture is finding it's talents & moving forward. A growing number of film stars who are native. A growing number of natives who understand and embrace technology.. etc.

A little native alternative rock for you and this blog. Joey Stylez.

April 13, 2016 @ 11:06 PM

Rick C in Oakville

When our 2nd child was born we decided to look for someone to come to our home to look after our kids. We found someone who had son a few months older than my daughter, who wanted to stay home with him but couldn't afford to work and put him in daycare. She came to our house everyday and it worked out for us. It was cheaper than full time daycare, but it took a lot of searching to find the right person. My wife was basically working to pay for this arrangement, but it was short term pain for a couple of years. She felt if she was out of the work force for 2-3 years she would have been too far behind in career choice.

All day Kindergarten works during the school year but not for infants, and then parents get the shock of once school ends you need to scramble to find summer care, because there is no coverage over the summer, and because of this policy many daycares cut back staff that normally would have absorbed this. A friend of my daughter looked after a couples children as her summer job because they couldn't get alternative daycare for 3 children.

Good Luck Mike, not much has changed in 25-30 years with this situation.

April 14, 2016 @ 5:46 AM


The difference between the USA and Canada is so obvious in this discussion. Conservative Canadians have a sense of empathy and making society function for the betterment of all. There is no hysteria about 'state control of children,' or 'soch-ul-izm,' or 'self-reliance.'

Amazing actually.

April 14, 2016 @ 10:45 AM


I've spoken to a few people who recommend the home caregiver/nanny route. Seems to be the most cost efficient. Certainly has challenges as raised by a few posters, but hopefully is something that would work well for you.

April 14, 2016 @ 11:31 AM



A Nanny might make sense. I know a couple who own a business and use one. It's cheaper than daycare & the kids get to stay in their own house. I guess the nanny lives with them so there is a associated costs. She works a full week and gets time off. She is here on some type of special visa and apparently companies will find these women for you. They do all the background checks.

April 14, 2016 @ 1:31 PM

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