Surrey has most expensive child care in B.C.: study

OTTAWA – Mothers in Surrey spend the biggest chunk of their income on child care in the province, and the second most in all of Canada according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Based on the results of an analysis of 22 of Canada’s largest cities, Surrey comes in second only to Brampton, Ont., for expensive child care when compared to median incomes. The Parent Trap, authored by David Macdonald and Martha Friendly, was made public on Monday (Nov. 10).

“Affordable child care is an important issue not only for parents but also for the Canadian economy as it plays a significant role in labour force participation, particularly for women,” notes the study. “When parents are given an affordable choice, they choose to work, which increases incomes for all Canadians.”

The study measured affordability by looking at the median cost of child care as compared to median income for women aged 25 to 34 in each of the 22 cities.

Nearly 35 per cent of a Surrey mother’s income goes to child care, making it the second highest in the nation and roughly the equivalent of four months of full-time work. The median income for a working Surrey mother is $2,791.43 a month.

Median child care fees for infants and toddlers are nearly $1,000 a month in Surrey, at $977. That number is slightly lower for preschoolers, at $868 a month.

The study was critical of Canada’s international role in child care, noting that for early childhood education and care, Canada spends the fifth-lowest as a share of GDP among all OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations, despite having high employment rates. “As Canadian parents are working parents, child care fees can play a major role in decision-making and labour force participation, particularly for women,” notes the study.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is a left-leaning think tank that frequently advocates for more social spending from all levels of government.

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