Canada’s child care program will be unbalanced from the start, study finds. Why? – National

The federal government’s much-vaunted National Child Care Program aims to make child care more affordable for parents, but a new study suggests the reduction in fees will depend on where they live.

The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives study indicates that as provinces and territories take different approaches to trying to meet the government’s original cost-cutting goals, some may miss them.

“It seems to me that the challenge is not so much getting a plan in place and making it work, but implementing it properly,” said David Macdonald, study co-author and senior economist at the center.

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The Liberals’ 2021 budget promised $30 billion in new spending for a national child care system over five years, and $9.2 billion per year thereafter.

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The government’s national plan aims to halve the average fee for regulated early learning and childcare places by the end of the year, and provide childcare at $10 a day in every province and territory by 2026.

The four ways provinces and territories plan to achieve a 50% fee reduction include reducing fixed fees, providing a lump-sum refund to parents without touching market fees, halving each service provider of its individual fees and modification of parent child care subsidies. .

“Overall, most cities and most age groups will miss the federal goals. They won’t miss them very much, but they will miss them,” Macdonald said.

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There are different types of child care for different age groups of children, including infant, toddler and preschool child care, the latter being the most common.

For preschool child care, seven of the 26 cities included in the study’s analysis will meet or exceed federal targets in 2022, including Whitehorse, Regina, Oakville, Ont., and Ottawa.

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Meanwhile, 15 cities will be close to their targets, missing them by about $20 to $100 a month, including Lethbridge, Alta., Toronto, Saint John, NB and Halifax, according to the study.

The four cities that will miss their targets by more than $100 a month are Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Charlottetown, according to the center.

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The reason Winnipeg is one of the cities whose fees are lagging behind its target has to do with its approach, Macdonald said.

“The Manitoba government is not changing its fixed costs at all. They are changing their subsidy system for low-income households, so the average fee reduction will still be 50%. But the benefit is really for low-income households,” he said.

Macdonald said he hopes the provinces move to a flat fee system, the most predictable and transparent way to get the 50% reduction in child care fees. Five provinces have adopted this method, including Quebec and more recently New Brunswick.

Many other provinces have not touched prior market fees, meaning whatever the daycare charges is still in place, and parents would benefit from fee discounts, he said.

“These market fees are everywhere. They can be expensive, they can be cheap, they can be in the middle. It’s much less predictable in terms of what parents might get,” Macdonald said, noting that this route is harder for parents to calculate and follow, and harder for provinces to manage.

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The study indicates that this approach will result in parents paying widely varying fees, although still lower than what they paid before.

Keeping the market system intact for child care also means it’s unclear whether parents will actually get $10 a day three years from now, Macdonald said.

Some could pay more than $10 a day as long as they paid less than that to arrive at an average of $10, he said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Ryan H. Bowman