Monday, March 20, 2017

How the Cost of Raising Kids Impacts Us

Can you afford to have (or more) children?  This is one of the biggest challenges couples thinking of starting a family are facing, and many Canadians are delaying starting families, deciding not to have children or choosing to have only one child due to cost.

From skyrocketing housing costs, to huge daycare fees (which are similar to one month’s rent in some cities), raising a child in Canada is expensive.

“We wanted to have three or four children, but we can’t because of the cost of child care,” said Gillian Bright. “We struggled a great deal with the expenses of childcare, which is just so overwhelming that it has kind of drowned everything else.”

The combination of struggling to pay for child care and challenges with employment and income have made it exponentially harder for Gillian to finish her PhD and get into the workforce.

According to an analysis by MoneySense magazine in 2015, the annual cost of raising a child in Canada is approximately $13,366 (averaged out over the course of the first 18 years of a child’s life). Parents spend the most money on child care, food and general household costs. Monthly day care fees cost the most in Toronto at an average of $1,150, while they cost an average of $905 a month in Vancouver, according to a 2016 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

While the cost of living is rising, salaries are not. According to the GenSqueeze, two income earners bring home what one income earner did in the 1970s, and Canadians need three times as long to save for a down payment for a house.

If there are fewer children being born due to the cost of housing and child care, then there are fewer people paying taxes and contributing to the social safety net.

“If families are choosing not to have children because they can’t afford care or they can’t find care, that’s going to come back to us as a society,” Nora Spinks, CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family, told The Globe and Mail.

Coping with the stress of child care is one of the biggest challenges families, like the Bright family, face in BC. Gillian Bright is one of the approximately 3,000 people who filled out the BC Council for Families’ second Let’s Talk Families BC! survey in the summer of 2014. Many respondents echoed Gillian’s sentiments with 25% indicating that child care was one of the biggest issues their family struggled with. The only issue that trumped child care was income, with 35% of respondents saying they frequently faced income challenges.

Ruby Banga is the Provincial Coordinator of the Nobody's Perfect Parenting and the My Tween and Me Programs in BC. She has worked in the non-profit sector for over 20 years. Ruby believes that parenting education and support makes a difference for families; and that although it can be super challenging, being a parent is also very rewarding and the most important job there is!

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