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Staying home with the kids can help you avoid paying for child care, but it also means giving up a full-time income. And that income can certainly come in handy these days given the skyrocketing cost of living

Going back to work will bring in more income, but will leave you having to pay for expensive child care. 

So, what can you do if you can’t afford to stay home, but also can’t afford child care? 

Fortunately, federal and provincial governments offer child care subsidies and other programs to help alleviate these high costs across Canada. 

Key Points You Should Know

  • In Canada, child care subsidies are available in every province. 
  • Depending on the province you live in, the subsidy amount will vary.
  • Alternative options to afford child care include nanny sharing, finding remote work or using a loan. 
  • If you’re looking for additional help, look into other government programs that may help with your child care costs including the Canada Child Benefit.

Best Child Care Subsidy In Canada

Each provincial government offers a child care subsidy to help bring the cost of child care down for eligible families.

Child Care Subsidy In Quebec 

The Reduced Contribution Program was created to help make child care in Quebec more affordable. It is available to parents of children between the ages of 0 to 5 years. The program limits the costs that child care providers whose services are subsidized can charge. As of January 1, 2024, the reduced contribution for a child who attends a subsidized daycare in Quebec is $9.10.

Child Care Subsidy In Ontario

In Ontario, parents of children under the age of 13 years (or up to 18 if the child has a disability) can apply for the provincial child care fee subsidy. The amount you pay for child care is based on your adjusted household net income. Child care centres that qualify under this subsidy include:

  • licensed child care programs
  • recreation programs
  • camps
  • before- and after-school programs operated by school boards.

Some municipalities in Ontario may also have their own programs:

Child Care Subsidy In Toronto 

Families in Toronto can take advantage of the city’s Child Care Fee Subsidy, which reduces the cost of licensed child care for children up to the age of 12 years. To be eligible for the program, you must reside in Toronto and work or go to school in the city. Your household income will also determine whether or not you qualify for the subsidy. 

Child Care Subsidy In Peel

The Child Care Subsidy in Peel reduces the cost of licensed child care for children 12 years or younger. To be eligible for the program, you must live in Peel and either be working or going to school in the region.

Child Care Subsidy In Alberta

Child care subsidies are available to eligible families in the province to offset the cost of child care for children up to grade 6. The subsidy applies to facilities such as licensed daycares and before- and after-school care, home-based programs overseen by a licensed daycare agency, and group family child care centres. 

The amount of subsidy you’ll receive depends on your child’s age, the child care program, the amount of care required a month, and your family income. 

Child Care Subsidy In British Columbia

British Columbia offers eligible families two options to help cover the costs of child care and other educational expenses.  One program is a subsidy while the other is a grant. 

  • Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative (CCFRI). This subsidy program provides funds to qualifying licensed child care providers to bring down the cost of child care for families. The program is available for children up to kindergarten age enrolled in a licensed child care centre. Savings can be as much as $900 per month per child.
  • Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB). Families with annual household incomes less than $111,000 can qualify for up to $1,250 per child per month for child care under the ACCB. The exact amount depends on your child’s age, number of people in your household, and type of child care. 

Child Care Subsidy In Manitoba

Manitoba’s Child Care Subsidy program provides financial support to qualifying families by lowering child care costs for children between 12 weeks to 12 years of age. Eligibility for the program is based on household income, age, the number of children in a household, and reason for care.

Child Care Subsidy In Saskatchewan

Before January 16, 2024,  the Child Care Subsidy in Saskatchewan (CCS) was available to families to help with the costs of subsidized child care. The subsidy is calculated using a sliding scale determined by household income. The subsidy increases as income decreases and is paid directly to child care centres, and parents pay the difference. 

Residents who applied for the CCS before January 16, 2024, will continue to receive the benefit. 

Saskatchewan Employment Incentive (SEI)

The Saskatchewan Employment Incentive (SEI) was created to replace the CCS. The SEI provides low-income working families with monthly financial support. Benefit amounts depend on family income and number of children. 

 Parent Affordability Grant

The Parent Affordability Grant is also available to eligible families, which is administered by the Ministry of Education and reduces the cost of child care.

Child Care Subsidy In New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s Daycare Assistance Program provides financial assistance to help cover the fees charged by Early Learning and Childcare Centres for children between the ages of 0 to 12 years. To be eligible, parents must live and work or attend school in New Brunswick. They must also have an annual household income of no more than $55,000. Further, children must be enrolled in a licensed child care centre or designated Early Learning Centre in the province. 

Child Care Subsidy In PEI 

The Child Care Subsidy Program in PEI assists families with the cost of child care for children up to the age of 12. Parents who are at home, working or in school are eligible so long as they live in PEI and meet the household income threshold. The exact amount you qualify for will also depend on your family situation. 

Eligible families may be approved for either partial or full subsidy. The provincial government will pay the child care centre’s fee up to a maximum. The exact amount depends on the child’s age group and type of care, minus costs already paid.

Child Care Subsidy In Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s Child Care Subsidy Program provides financial assistance to eligible families with children up to the age of 12 years. The program covers a portion of child care fees at licensed child care centres and regulated home-based daycares. Parents must meet income and finance eligibility requirements to qualify.

The subsidy amount is based on a sliding scale and will vary based on your income and the number of dependents in your family. 

Child Care Subsidy In Newfoundland and Labrador

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Child Care Subsidy Program helps families cover the cost of child care at regulated child care facilities. Fees for child care are either reduced or eliminated.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements For The Child Care Subsidy Programs?

While the exact requirements vary by program, you generally need the following to be eligible: 

Most programs require you:

  • To file your income tax return.
  • To meet an income threshold
  • To apply with a participating child care provider 

New immigrants also appear to be eligible but they would need to show their CCB eligibility.

How Much Does Child Care Cost In Canada?

According to Statistics Canada, in 2022 Canadian parents spent $7,790 per year for full-time child care. This works out to $649 per month. The cost is slightly higher for children between the ages of 0 to 3 years, with an average annual cost of $8,146 per full-time child care. In comparison, the average cost of child care for 4 to 5-year-olds is $6,880 per year.

What Can You Do If You Can’t Afford Daycare?

Coming up with a few hundred dollars every week to cover the cost of child care is more than many Canadian families can afford. If you’re in this situation, there are a few options that may be available.

Share A Nanny

One of the biggest perks of having a nanny is that your child will be cared for in your home. But like daycare centres, nannies come with a cost. 

To help offset the price tag, you may consider sharing a nanny with other families. In some cases, the nanny can care for all children together in one home. This model may not work for parents who require full-time care for their children. However, it may be suitable for families needing only part-time or occasional child care.

Use A Personal Loan 

Adding more debt to the pile may not always be the best idea, especially if you’re already carrying a heavy balance. But in some cases, it may be necessary, particularly when it means ensuring that your children are properly cared for.  

By taking out a personal loan, you can use the funds to cover the full cost of child care. Then, you can spread the costs of the loan by making smaller installment payments over an extended loan term. That way, you can afford to send your child to daycare or after-school programs, which can develop their knowledge, skills, and self-confidence.

Find Out If You Can Work Remotely

Speak with your employer and ask if there are any opportunities to work from home. Even if it can only be on a part-time basis, this would significantly reduce the cost of child care. 

If your job is difficult to perform with young children at home, consider asking your employer to arrange for an alternative work schedule. One that allows you to work early mornings or evenings when your kids are asleep. 

Look Into Government Programs

There are government programs designed to offset the cost of having a baby or child, such as the following:

Canada Child Benefit (CCB) 

The CCB is a tax-free monthly payment from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It is paid to eligible families to help with the cost of having children under the age of 18 years. Your eligible benefit amount is based on your household income from the previous year, the number of children in your household, and their age.

The Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Plan: $10-A-Day Child Care Services

The Canadian government recently reached an agreement with all provinces (except Quebec as an affordable plan is already in place) and territories to provide affordable child care to families across the country. The plan is to reduce regulated child care costs to an average of $10 a day. 

As of 2024, 7 provinces (YK, NU, SK, MB, NF, and PEI) have introduced a $10-a-day (on average) child care, while the others have reduced the cost of regulated child care by at least 50%. Do note, that this agreement only applies to regulated child care providers. 

Final Thoughts

Many parents would love to stay home with their kids but need to stay in the workforce to help cover increasingly costly living expenses. But this leaves them with an extra bill: child care. Thankfully, there are government-backed subsidy programs available that can slash the overall cost of child care and ease the pressure on household finances.

Child Care Subsidy FAQs

Is child care subsidized in Canada?

Many child care centres in Canada are subsidized by the government on a federal, provincial, and municipal level. Subsidy programs generally apply to child care centres that are regulated by the government, and families must meet eligibility criteria to qualify. 

How does $10-a-day daycare work in Canada?

As part of its 2021 federal budget, the federal government set a goal to ensure that families across Canada would have access to $10-a-day child care by 2026. To reach this goal, provincial and territorial governments have received funding from the federal government. They are working to open 250,000 new child care spaces across the country by March 2026. 

How much does an at-home nanny/babysitter charge?

The average hourly rate for a nanny in Canada varies by province. For example, Nannies in Onatrio charge on average $18 per hour, while those in Alberta charge $19. Though nannies with more experience can charge upwards of $25 per hour.
Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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