Hundreds of thousands families live in daycare ‘deserts,’ report says

Liberals are providing federal cash for child care to provinces, territories over the next 10 years

An estimated 776,000 Canadian children live in areas of the country parched of available daycare spaces, suggests a new report that outlines the statistical flip side of high child care costs in some parts of the country.

The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, being released Thursday, says 44 per cent of all school-aged children live in so-called “child care deserts” where the number of children outstrips the available spaces in licensed homes and centres.

The study didn’t take into account unlicensed daycare because there is no exhaustive list of spaces Canada-wide.

Researchers found cities in provinces that take a more active role in regulating child care were more likely to have broader coverage, compared with those provinces that took a hands-off approach to regulation and let the market dictate prices and locations of spaces.

As a result, the report concludes, fewer than five per cent of children in Charlottetown and Quebec cities were under-served, compared with Saskatoon, where every child lived in a child care desert.

“Most of the patterns in the market system reflect what providers want; they don’t reflect what parents want because providers locate where they want to locate,” said David Macdonald, a senior economist at the centre and author of the study.

“It illustrates the other side of child care.”

Spaces were also crowded around urban cores, and less prevalent in suburbs and rural areas of the country.

Toronto’s child care spaces were concentrated around the Yonge Street corridor heading right up to Highway 401. beyond that stretch, coverage rates dropped, meaning that parents may be doing a double commute daily – to and from daycare, and then to and from the office.

The same wasn’t true in Quebec. On the island of Montreal, there were enough spaces for the number of children and the same was true in the surrounding areas.

“Quebec shows a bit of a different model, and that’s in part due to the fact that the province is much more involved in child care there — not only setting the fees, but also planning where these centres should go,” Macdonald said. “You end up with a lot fewer deserts.”

The Trudeau Liberals are providing federal cash for child care to the provinces and territories over the next 10 years, the first three of which are subject to funding agreements.

Plans submitted by most provinces and territories show that approximately 9,700 new spaces will be created over the next three years as a result of federal funding. The number doesn’t include Ontario and Quebec, whose plans don’t break down the precise impact of federal funding.

Of the spaces to be created, some will target under-served communities, while others will target marginalized populations like those living in low-income and recent immigrants. Other spending will create daycare spaces for parents working irregular hours like shift work.

The report says smart public policy is needed if the federal and provincial governments want to meet their grand promises on child care.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

McCallum says Surrey LRT communication plan close to election is ‘perceived interference’

McCallum ‘gravely concerned’ Surrey and TransLink will violate election financing rules, but city says all rules will be followed

Two Surrey volleyballers set to play for Team Canada

Brianna Beamish and Kiera Van Ryk in Japan for FIVB World Championships

Surrey school trustees want to see reliance on portables reduced by 50% in five years

Board votes unanimously to request a meeting with Minister of Education

UPDATE: Police seeking witnesses to fatal Surrey hit-and-run

A pedestrian was killed Thursday night in a crash on Highway 10 near 152nd Street

Surrey woman with autism has scooter stolen from SkyTrain station

Kayla Polege purchased scooter after ‘shutdowns’ on transit

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

UPDATE: Police ID man in suspicious Richmond death

A body was found in the area of Garden City and Odlin Roads in Richmond just after 8:30am Thursday

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read