By the Numbers: Child care deserts in Canada

Toronto – July 7, 2018 – A recent report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reveals that nearly half of Canadian non-school-aged children live in “child care deserts" – communities where there aren’t enough spaces in licensed day cares. Child care deserts are identified as postal codes where there are at least three children in potential competition for each licensed space.


There are an estimated 776,000 children, nearly 44% of all non-school-aged children in Canada currently living in child care deserts – communities that are parched for available child care.


The report reveals that Saskatoon is the worst city in the country for child care with 100% of children currently living a childcare desert.

9 out of 10

Other communities where there isn’t sufficient child care space include Kitchener, Ont., Brampton, Ont., and Surrey, B.C. In these cities, nine out of 10 children do not have significant child care space.


Child care coverage rates high in Charlottetown and several of the large cities in and around the Island of Montreal, with a licensed space for over 70% of non-school-aged children.


The highest provincial child care coverage rate is in Quebec, where there are 444,910 children who may potentially be looking for child care spaces.


It is estimated that 9,700 new child care spaces will be created as a result of federal funding in all provinces except for Ontario and Quebec.


Since Quebec implemented a subsidized child care program in 1997, the workforce participation rate for women in the 20 to 44 age range has risen from 76 to 85 per cent – the highest increase in the country over the last two decades.


A report published by the Conference Board of Canada argues that for every dollar spent on early childhood education programs, the economy gains roughly $6 in economic benefits.

Sources:Child Care Deserts in Canada,” The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2018.Time Out: Child care fees in Canada,” The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2017.Ready for Life: A Socio-Economic Analysis of Early Childhood Education and Care,” The Conference Board of Canada, 2018.