Child-care rebates and cuts

As part of the $10-a-day child care deal, Ontario parents could see their fees cut by 25% by May, with a retroactive date of April 1. Another reduction is expected by December. Since wait times in the province for many child-care centres are often a year, it might be a good idea to put your child’s name down now. Your monthly fees might be much lower than you originally anticipated by the time you secure a spot.

Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan negotiated deals to cut child-care costs in half by the end of the year. The other provinces and territories made their own deals with the federal government, which should increase available child-care spaces while lowering costs.

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It’s also worth noting that some provinces also offer child benefits — such as the Affordable Child Care Benefit in British Columbia — to help low-to-moderate income families. Plus, the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) can help offset some child-care costs for all eligible families across Canada.

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Maternity and parental benefits

Maternity and parental benefits allow you to receive 55% of your earnings, up to a maximum of $638 (as of 2022) a week. This may not seem like a lot, but at least you’ll be able to earn some income while you’re off work.

With maternity leave, the benefits are only available to the person who’s pregnant or has recently given birth. This can not be shared between parents. However, when it comes to parental benefits, either parent can take the time off, and it can be shared.

What’s interesting about parental leave is that you can choose between standard benefits, which give you up to 40 weeks of pay, or extended benefits for 69 weeks. When taking extended benefits, your weekly payments are lower, but you get the same overall payout as standard benefits.

The advantage is that there’s potentially less child-care time you need to worry about. That said, depending on your income level, returning to work early could mean more money in your pocket, even if you have to pay for child care.

Get your family to help

If possible, see if the grandparents or other family members can help out. In some cultures, it’s common for grandparents to take care of the grandchildren when they’re younger, but that shouldn’t be expected. Talk to your parents and see if they’re willing and able to help out. You could also see if any other extended family members can help occasionally.

Some family members are happy to help out for free, but you should at least offer to pay them some money. Their time is valuable, so the gesture can go a long way.

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Child-care swap with family and friends

Anyone who only needs occasional child care should consider a swap with friends or family. This is where you would take turns babysitting for each other. This can make child care much more affordable since no money is being exchanged.

Keep in mind that these swaps don’t have to be for the entire day. Sometimes you might just need a few hours to get some personal things done. Having someone you can rely on to help you out can go a long way. Of course, you need to return the favour for this arrangement to work out. It can’t be one-sided.

While doing a child swap with friends and family can help, the arrangement can be difficult since you need to accommodate for everyone’s schedules. Unlike a professional daycare, there’s always a chance that your prospective caregiver has to cancel, which will leave you scrambling last-minute to find child care. You also need someone who lives close enough to do the swap, or you’ll be wasting time in transit.

Share a nanny

If family and friends aren’t an option, consider sharing a nanny. If you live in a community that has many young parents, there are probably other parents that would be happy to share a nanny since it’ll likely reduce their monthly child-care costs.

Finding a nanny is the tricky part. Look at online community forums first, as many nannies will often advertise their services there. Alternatively, if you know anyone who currently has a nanny, see if their nanny knows others looking for work.

Also, if you hire a formal nanny, you become an employer. That means you’ll need to fill out payroll and provide income statements. Since you’ll be sharing the nanny, you need to ensure both families have their paperwork in order as it could affect the nanny’s taxes.

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About the Author

Barry Choi

Barry Choi

MoneyWise.ca Contributor

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who makes frequent media appearances. When he's not educating people on how to be smarter with money, he's earning and burning miles and points for luxury travel.

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