Canadians often hear about the apparent need for more licensed daycare spaces. News stories about waitlists in big cities give the impression of a daycare crunch. Even when additional spaces are announced, the public is reminded that it’s never enough.1 But what if the daycare shortage is not so much a shortage of spaces as a shortage of children in them?
In this report, we examine daycare demand and availability using the city of Toronto as a case study. Vacancy data shows that rather than a shortage of spaces in Toronto, there has actually been a surplus.
This evidence is routinely obscured through use of three proxy measures of daycare demand that overstate true demand. In response, government funding for daycare has risen faster than enrolment.
All children need early learning and child care (ELCC) twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That need is met in a variety of ways including by parents themselves. Public policy, however, usually focuses on one type of care— institutional daycare—to the disadvantage of those who prefer other forms of ELCC.
Download the full report below