The High Cost of Living in Toronto forces Both Parents to work and forces their Children into Daycare

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 24th, 2013

Week in Review

Once upon a time we worked so we could raise our families.  Now we find someone to raise our children so we can work (see Daycare in Toronto: ‘Parent summit’ participants tell of vastly different experiences by Marco Chown Oved posted 11/22/2013 on the star).

Diana Tarango is worried. Her 4-year-old daughter is in all-day kindergarten, but because she can’t find before- and after-school care, she can’t go back to work.

Perry Wong and Nalini Nankoo are frustrated. They have been looking for a daycare space for their 2-year-old son and have put down non-refundable deposits to get on the waiting list at a half-dozen daycares. They can’t afford to keep wasting money, and their son still doesn’t have a space.

Cynthia Zhu and Kenny Ji couldn’t be happier. They’ve been in Canada for less than a year and they’ve got both their kids in subsidized daycare spots near their home.

These stories show how ineffective our patchwork daycare system is, said Councillor Shelley Carroll.

“Child care is an issue that affects us all in different ways,” she said. “That’s why we need these meetings and why we need to get people talking across generations, too.”

Parents, grandparents and even childless adults are all affected by the high cost of daycare, said Carroll, and a better system won’t just be better for families with young children, it will be good for the economy as well.

There are 57,000 daycare spaces in Toronto, only enough for 21 per cent of the city’s children under 12. The city subsidizes 24,264 of those spaces, which only covers about 28 per cent of children in low-income families.

Making matters worse, the wait-list for a subsidized spot is more than 18,500 people long…

Tarango, newly arrived from Hungary, looked into putting her younger son into daycare, but can’t believe how much it would cost.

“I was amazed when I asked the price: $1,500 per kid (per month)!” she said. “In Hungary, after one and a half years, everything is free. The daycare even provides food free, too.”

If 21% of the total number of children under 12 equals 57,000 then the total number of children under 12 in Toronto equals 271,429 (57,000/0.21).  The total number of children who need daycare is 75,500 (57,000+18,500).   Subtracting this number from the total number of children under 12 equals 195,929 (271,429-75,500).  So the percentage of children under 12 who are raised in Toronto without daycare equals 72.2% (195,929/271,429).  In other words, the vast majority of children of daycare age DON’T use daycare.  Which is a good thing.  And one would hope that’s because they have a stay-at-home parent raising their child in a loving household.  Instead of dumping these inconvenient pains in the ass at daycare so they can do something more rewarding than parenting.

There may be many reasons why parents need daycare for their children.  Single mothers may need daycare so they can work.  There could be a married parent that prizes a career over raising children and prefers to work instead of being a stay-at-home parent.  But perhaps the greatest reason is that parents can’t raise a family on a single income because of high taxes.  Some of which are going to subsidize daycare at $1,500 per child per month.  Which creates a death spiral for daycare.

Daycare isn’t cheap.  So it takes a lot of tax dollars to subsidize.  The high unmet demand for daycare spaces requires more tax dollars to subsidize.  Which require higher tax rates.  Leaving people with less take-home pay.  Making it more difficult for parents to raise a family on a single income.  Requiring more two-income households.  And a greater demand for daycare.  Requiring more tax dollars.  And higher tax rates.  Leaving families with less take-home pay.  And so on.

The best way to provide for these children?  Tax cuts.  Allowing families to keep more of their take-home pay.  So much that they can raise a family on a single income.  Like they used to do.  Before the welfare state.  That provided cradle-to–grave benefits.  Which, ironically, leaves working people with less.  And forces their children to spend more time growing up with strangers.  And less time with their parents.

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