Child care cost rise amidst the pandemic

April 15, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Fatima Baig

A recent report from The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives finds that daycare costs are rising.

There has been an annual increase as low as one per cent in places like Ottawa, Regina and Halifax, while Brampton has seen a rise of up to 21 per cent. Places like Vancouver, Moncton, Whitehorse and Yellowknife showed a slight decline in child care fees.

Sarah Sayffi, director of The Sunflower School in Orangeville, attributes the rise in cost to burnout, fewer registrations and lack of financial support from the government.

“Their jobs changed, and people are working from home, so they are trying to work with their children at home. People don’t feel safe. If they can, they take advantage of grandparents or family members to look after their kids. They want to choose that option, and they want to wait and see if things get better,” said Sayffi.

According to The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, there were at least 10 per cent fewer children in child care in the fall of 2020 compared to February of that year, prior to the pandemic: 27 of 37 cities showed enrollment drops of 20 per cent or higher.

Currently, the Sunflower location on Townline has 50 children enrolled, while their capacity is 92. Because of the lack of children enrolled, Sunflower School has had to close its Lawrence Avenue location as of last June.

“It’s definitely impacted enrollment. We’re sitting at 50 per cent–60 per cent enrollment every time there is a spike, we will have kids that were lined up ready to start, and we will pull and say we aren’t ready yet or don’t feel safe yet, so we can’t seem to get back to full enrolment, and we’ve open since for eight months now,” said Sayffi.

According to Sayffi, one of the challenges is that child care operators don’t get enough funding from the government.

“Child care is always expensive because there is no funding that would help us coming from the provincial or the federal government, so the federal government needs to step up and help out more because in order [to] run a program, it cost a lot for us, we are, out of the goodness of our [heart]…charging less because we feel bad when it really it should be more,” said Sayffi.

Currently, The Sunflower school is only getting a commercial rent program and wage support. Other expenses such as supplies and pay roll come out of their own pocket.

An increase in prices hasn’t yet been discussed, but it’s not off the table, according to Sayffi.

“We haven’t yet, but we are definitely thinking about it. We are trying to give parents a break, and as long as we are getting the rental subsidy, we feel like we can push through a little bit longer, but normally we increase prices every February and we didn’t do it this year because of the current situation,” said Sayffi.

She also attributes the increase in prices to the burnout that child care operators are facing.

“Employees are burnt out as I have never been seen before, and now it’s been increased by cleaning, following policies. The pandemic has obviously had an impact on our mental health. We came back in the summer and in that time when it was so uncertain, and everybody got to stay home except for us. I have seen huge burnout from our staff.” said Sayffi.

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