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'I didn’t know it would be this bad': B.C. parents struggle with lack of affordable daycare

‘I didn’t know it would be this bad’: B.C. parents struggle with lack of affordable daycare

For Anita, the endless struggle to find affordable child-care is taking a toll on her mental health, her family life and her pocketbook.

The Vancouver mother has been searching continuously over the last year to find an affordable daycare space for her two-year-old daughter with little success. She asked that an alias be used for this story to protect her privacy. 

Anita and her husband, who are both immigrants, do not have family nearby to help them raise their daughter. She is on the waitlist for ten spaces in various daycares.

A new study, conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, found waitlists for child-care remain common in most Canadian cities, as do waitlist fees (except for in Ontario, where the provincial government banned such fees). The study also found that parents in 61 percent of the country’s 28 largest cities faced child-care costs last year that rose above the rate of inflation.

Anita’s struggles with finding affordable child-care have weighed heavily on her and her husband. The ordeal has caused a lot of anxiety and has impacted their finances, as Anita has not been able to return to full-time work since her maternity leave ended.

“Everyone goes through this phase where it’s hard being a parent, but I thought both of us are hardworking, smart, educated and living in a good city,” she said. “I knew it was going to be challenging, but I didn’t know it would be this bad, where it would really make us question all of our life choices.”

Anita and her husband tried two different private child-care providers that both ended up rejecting their daughter. The couple is now forking out for a part-time nanny, who can only come Monday to Thursday.

“It took me a very long time to find her,” Anita said.

Last year, the B.C. government announced new measures to tackle high daycare costs, but Vancouver continues to be among the country’s most expensive places for child-care, particularly for children younger than three.

In the Metro Vancouver area, median fees for infants in 2018 were $1,400 per month, according to the CCPA study. For preschoolers, the median price was $1,000 per month.

The nanny costs more than daycare would, even though the couple is sharing her fee with another family, Anita said. Most of her paycheque now goes to paying the nanny.

“It’s just not affordable,” Anita said.

Like many other Vancouver parents, Anita and her husband can only wait and hope that a space will open up for their daughter that they can afford.