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Kelowna child care fees grew during pandemic: Study

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March 21, 2021 - 3:30 PM

A new study found that child care costs grew in Kelowna during the pandemic while enrollments dropped.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says fees spiked in Kelowna, Surrey and Richmond between $60 and $73 a month.

"In Kelowna, (we're seeing) some of the fastest increases in the country in the prices. Why is that? It's because the new spaces are for-profit, and they're much more expensive," Iglika Ivanova, a senior economist with the centre, said.

The higher fees come despite a provincewide fee-reduction program that offers funding to eligible child care providers.

On average, child care fees went up by seven per cent in Kelowna, eight per cent in Surrey and Richmond, and two per cent in Burnaby, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, enrollment dropped in 27 of 37 cities surveyed. Kelowna saw 243 less spaces filled, a drop of 15 per cent.

About 11,000 regulated child care providers were polled in 37 cities across Canada between Sept. 22 and Nov. 13, 2020.

During those months many parents were working from home because of the pandemic, and Ivanova says even though there was new provincial funding for child care in B.C. at that time as a support, Kelowna child care fees still increased.
Ivanova is also concerned that while child care centres have limits on fee increases per year, there is no cap.

Even though B.C. will bring in new maximum fees next month for new centres applying for the provincial fee reduction program,  the fees permitted can still be too high, Ivanova said.

"Kelowna's kind of in the middle nationally for child care fees, but Kelowna parents still pay about $8,000 to $9,000 more a year than they would if they lived in Quebec," she said, because of Quebec's provincially-funded child care program.

She also says Kelowna for-profit child care operators charge 24 per cent more than non-profit ones, and while the B.C. government is investing in building more child care spaces, they're typically in the for-profit sector.

Quebec saw the lowest median infant fees per month at $181 a month,  with Kelowna was $870.

A space for a child under three cost $925 a month in Kelowna.

Toronto was the highest nation-wide for median child care fees at $1,250 a month for toddlers and $1866 for infants.

Child care fees as broken down in a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Kelowna's place is indicated as a white bar in the graph.
Child care fees as broken down in a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Kelowna's place is indicated as a white bar in the graph.
Image Credit: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives


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