Facts about Child Care in Canada
There are roughly 5 million children under the age of 12 in Canada, and about 1.3 million licensed child care spaces. These include 636,157 full and part day centre spaces for 0-5 year olds, 570,022 centre spaces for school-age children to 12 years and 143,647 regulated family (home) child care spaces for 0-12 year olds.
Statistics Canada reported in June 2021 that in 2019 there were nearly 302,000 child care workers in Canada. One third were immigrants or non-permanent residents. Twenty-five per cent of child care workers were self-employed. From February 2020 to February 2021, around 63,000 or 21 per cent of child care workers in licensed facilities became unemployed. In comparison, total employment in Canada decreased by three per cent over the same period. Women make up 96 per cent of the child care workforce. In addition, many migrant workers employed as caregivers on temporary work permits in their employers’ homes also lost their jobs when their employers began to work from home or left the work force.
In 2019, on average, child care workers were making $19.97 per hour, compared to average hourly earnings of $27.91 for workers in all other occupations. Keep in mind that this average is somewhat misleading, given the fact that the highest paid receive remuneration several times greater than what the lowest paid receive.
Prior to the pandemic, about 28 per cent of families in the work force with children had a child in licensed child care. From February 2020 to February 2021, at least 20 per cent of all licensed day care spaces had closed, and it is uncertain how many will be closed permanently. Many of those which closed were operated as “not for profit” centres by community groups or voluntary operators.
According to an RBC Economics report, nearly 100,000 women aged 20 and older have left the labour force since February 2020, 10 times the number of men who left the labour force. The 2016 Canadian census found that both couples without a post-secondary education and single parents had decreased participation in the paid labour force from 2005 to 2015. The high cost of child care and education as well as housing etc. are considered major factors in this decline.
In 2016, around 36 per cent of regulated spaces were operated on a for-profit basis. Large corporate chains are expanding, with one such company alone having a stated goal to capture 10 per cent of the Canadian child care “market.” As with long-term care for seniors, for-profit child care has been shown to pay poorer wages, have fewer highly trained staff and a higher rate of failure to comply with legislated staff/child ratios.
(With files from Childcarecanada.org, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)