From CBC News Wed, 05 Jul 2006

Nearly every major city in Canada is dealing with a considerable shortage of licensed day care spaces, according to a new national study.

The report, entitled “Learning from Each Other: Early Learning and Child Care Experiences in Canadian Cities,” examines the local provision of children’s services in Canadian cities, including child care, kindergarten, and out-of-school-hours care for six- to 12-year-olds.

It concludes that in most cities there are licensed day care spaces for only 15 per cent of children.

Janet Libbey, acting director of the Mothercraft Day Care Centre in Ottawa said the lack of space has led to an increase in waiting list times.

“Well, it can be a minimum of a year’s waiting list,” said Libbey. “And sometimes with the full-time program, 18 months is not unrealistic. And there’s still many families we never get to.”

The City of Toronto organized the national study, which also includes St. John’s, Halifax, Montreal, Sherbrooke, Toronto, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Whitehorse.

Montreal came out ahead in the study, due to a provincial commitment to day care. Montreal has spaces for 45 per cent of children until the age of 12.

Julie Mathien, policy development officer with the City of Toronto, said a Conservative government plan to cancel federal-provincial funding agreements next year will result in even more of a squeeze, with 5,000 fewer spaces in Toronto alone.

“Most of those spaces were in communities where there were significant numbers of children living below the poverty line and there is a significant lack of services to begin with,” Mathien said.

In Ottawa, Libbey said the federal proposal to give parents a monthly allowance of $100 is inadequate, as the average cost for a preschooler in the capital is approximately $900 per month.
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