Child care is an important aspect of any country’s infrastructure. It helps to shape the development and well-being of the society’s youngest members. In Canada, policymakers work together with parents and childcare providers to provide quality care and support for all children regardless of their background, which fosters children’s overall growth and allows parents to fully take part in the workforce.

In this article, we explore the child care statistics in Canada, including the number of children in child care, access and cost of child care, as well as child care industry statistics. We have collated information on national surveys and reports so that by the end of the article you will have a good understanding of childcare statistics in Canada.

Child Care Statistics for Canadians

  • Child Care Statistics for Canadians
  • 52% of children under six years old were in childcare in Canada at the beginning of 2022.
  • Only 14% of Canadian infants were in childcare in 2022 compared to 20% in 2020.
  • Over half of Canadian parents choose to have their infants cared for by relatives.
  • At 71%, Quebec has the highest proportion of children in childcare.
  • 52% of Canadian parents consider the location when choosing a child carer.
  • Approximately 40% of Canadian parents have had difficulties finding childcare.
  • 20% of parents still felt childcare was not safe because of COVID-19 at the beginning of 2022.
  • 99% of Canadian childcare providers are small women-owned businesses.
  • The childcare industry revenue was $8.1 million in 2022.
  • Between 2009 and 2016, government spending on childcare increased by 31.8%.

Child Care in Canada

In 2022, the government conducted a Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements (SELCCA). This survey included a range of childcare providers such as before or after-school programs, centre-based facilities, and care provided at home by a relative or non-relative. The survey did not include occasional days in kindergarten or babysitting.

According to the survey, in early 2022, 52% of children younger than six years old were in either licensed or unlicensed childcare in Canada. This was the same percentage as at the end of 2020. However, it was below the 60% recorded in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Number of Infants in Child Care Has Decreased

While the overall number of young children in child care in Canada has remained unchanged since 2020, there are noticeable differences between age groups. In 2020, 20% of infants younger than one were in child care compared to 14% in 2022. 57% of parents whose children were not in childcare were on maternity or parental leave, while 17% preferred to stay at home with the child.

The portion of one to three-year-olds who were in some form of child care was 62% in 2022 and had not changed since 2020. In 2022, more four- and five-year-olds that were not attending school were in childcare at 72% compared to 63% in 2020. However, fewer four and five-year-olds attending school were also in childcare in 2022 than in 2020 with 47% and 54% respectively.

Changes in the Type of Childcare Used in Canada

More Canadian children under six years old were in daycare centres, preschools, or centres de la petite enfance (CPE) in 2022 than in 2020. The rate was 31% in 2022, which was the same as before the pandemic in 2019 and higher than the 26% in late 2020.

At the same time, fewer children were in home-based childcare arrangements. The portion of children was 8% in 2022, lower than in 2020 or 2019 when the portions were 10% and 12% respectively.

Age was an important factor for Canadian parents in deciding the type of childcare. In 2022, over half of the infants were cared for by a relative, while almost 2/3 of one to three-year-olds were in preschools, CPEs, or daycare centres.

81% of four- and five-year-olds who were in childcare were in daycare centres, preschools, or CPEs. The remaining 19% had other childcare arrangements. Among the parents of four- and five-year-olds who attended school and childcare, before and after-school programs and daycare, preschool, or CPE arrangements were equally popular at 37%. The remaining 26% had other childcare arrangements.

Childcare Across Canada

There are significant differences between provinces when looking at child care in Canada. Children under the age of six were most likely to be in child care if they lived in Quebec with 71% of children in some type of child care.

Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick had higher portions than the national average as well, at 59% in each province. Ontario and Alberta had the lowest proportions of children in childcare with 41% and 46% respectively.

While there were no changes in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick compared to survey findings from 2020, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Ontario the number of children in childcare had decreased. It had increased in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

Location is a Key Factor For Canadian Parents Choosing Child Care

When Canadian parents are making child care arrangements, location is a key factor. 52% of parents consider the location, 49% the characteristics of the child care provider, 37% the affordability, and 35% the hours of operation.

In 2022, a third of Canadian parents and guardians reported they chose the child care facility because a government or an agency had licensed it. 35% also felt the qualifications held by the provider were important.

Finding Child Care in Canada

Around 40% of Canadian parents said they had difficulty in finding childcare in early 2022. This was a similar proportion as in late 2020. Parents who had children younger than one had the most difficulties with 47% reporting it had been difficult to find a place for their child. Parents with children aged four or five who were already attending school had the least trouble at 35%.

Among the parents who had found it challenging to find childcare, 57% said it was difficult to find childcare in their community. 46% reported that it was hard to find affordable care. About a quarter of parents said finding childcare was challenging because of the pandemic. Interestingly, this figure was the same in 2022 as in 2020, despite the easing of the COVID situation.

The main reason parents did not have their children in daycare was the cost. 61% of parents said they had looked for childcare but had struggled to find something affordable for them.

Child Care and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Canadian parents’ decisions about childcare, with 20% feeling that childcare was not safe because of the pandemic in 2022. However, the proportion of parents citing safety as the reason their children were not in childcare was lower than in 2020, when 28% of parents felt childcare was not safe because of COVID-19.

The perceptions differed across the provinces. Only around 10% of parents in Quebec consider childcare unsafe during the pandemic. In Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and British Columbia almost twice as many parents felt the same.

Cost of Child Care in Canada

Child care is one of the biggest expenses for Canadian families with children under six and can represent a significant concern for them. On average, Canadian families spend almost $10,000 per child on daycare in a single year, with people living in urban areas likely to spend even more.

However, there are big differences across the country, with people living in cities in Quebec paying around $180 per month for childcare. Families living in Toronto face the highest childcare costs, with average monthly fees of over $1,000.

The provincial and territorial governments are taking steps to address the cost and availability of child care across the country. The governments aim to create 250,000 new spaces in child care by 2026. This is supported by an initial $30 billion in funding over five years. The program means that parents whose children are in qualifying childcare facilities are eligible for partial and graduated reductions in fees.

In 2022, parents could receive a rebate or credit of up to 25% on the daycare fees, with the rebate increasing to 50% in 2023. The aim is to reduce the fees until an average of $10 per day is reached in 2026. The annual savings will range from $2,600 in Manitoba to over $9,000 in Ontario and British Columbia.

The Child Care Industry in Canada

99% of all childcare businesses in Canada are small, women-owned businesses, with no employees and an average income of approximately $22,000 in a year. Some large childcare companies offer services in several locations and sometimes in multiple provinces. These large companies can have revenues of over $1 million per year.

In 2016, the GDP of childcare provision in Canada, including child care within the education system, was $15.1 billion. $4.9 billion of the GDP came from childcare businesses, $5.6 billion from kindergarteners, and the rest from government subsidies and expenditures.

There is a high turnover in the childcare market. The entry rate of new childcare providers is between 18% and 33%, depending on the year, while the exit rates range from 16% to 26%. These percentages are mostly made of small childcare companies that are often short-lived with an average lifespan of three years.

Child Care Industry Revenue

The market size, when measured by revenue was $8.1 billion with a growth rate of 4.1% in 2022. However, the market size has declined between 2017 and 2022 by an average of 0.6% per year. In terms of market size, the industry ranked 147th in Canada. Within the healthcare and social assistance sector, it was the fourth largest industry.

Government Spending on Child Care

The government spending on child care and early learning in Canada increased by 31.8% between 2009 and 2016 when it reached $4.53 billion. The largest expenditures were in Ontario and Quebec and the smallest in the three territories. This spending largely reflects the distribution of the population as well as some structural differences in the provision of child care.

Conclusion

In Canada, just over half of children younger than six are in childcare. Quebec has the highest proportion of children in daycare, most likely thanks to the more affordable prices. When making childcare decisions, Canadian parents and guardians will consider factors such as location, affordability, and qualifications of the childcare provider.

With an average annual cost of $10,000 per child, childcare is one of the biggest financial decisions for young families in Canada and can be a significant burden for many of them. The government is taking steps to make childcare more affordable with credits and rebates until childcare costs just $10 per day per child.

Frequently Asked Questions

Accessibility of child care in Canada depends on where you live. The number of available regulated spaces in child care is still a challenge in many areas, but especially in popular urban areas. The government is taking steps to address this issue and aims to provide around 250,000 new childcare spaces by 2026.

There are considerable differences in the cost of childcare in Canada depending on the province or territory. The most affordable childcare can currently be found in Ontario where it costs around $180 per month. Childcare prices are the highest in Ontario, especially in Toronto, with monthly fees starting from around $1,200. However, the government is aiming to reduce childcare costs for all Canadians, with credits and rebates.

The average salary for a child carer in Canada is $34,892. This is $17.89 per hour. However, there are differences in salaries depending on location and experience. The average revenue for 99% of Canadian childcare facilities is $22,000 per year.

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