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Child care in Canada: A snapshot

November 20, 2023, 11:00 a.m. (EST)

National Child Day, observed every year on November 20, is an opportunity to consider the current needs of the youngest generation. And for working parents and guardians, one of the top needs for their kids is quality child care.

How many kids participate in child care, and who is providing it? Let’s have a look at some key numbers from the Survey on Early Learning and Child Care Arrangements (SELCCA), the Canadian Survey on the Provision of Child Care Services (CSPCCS), the Survey on Before and After School Care, and others.

Over one million children aged 0 to 5 years in child care

According to SELCCA data, there were nearly 1.2 million Canadian children younger than 6 years old in child care in early 2022, accounting for just over half (52%) of that age group’s population.

Children living in Quebec (71%) were most likely to be in child care, those in Prince Edward Island (59%) and New Brunswick (59%) were more likely than the average, while those in Alberta (46%) and Ontario (41%) were the least likely.

Two in five children in before- and after-school care

In spring 2022, 40% of Canadian children aged 4 to 12 years who were attending school participated in some form of before- or after-school care.

School-based programs were the most common arrangement reported by parents for this age group, while other children were cared for by a relative or were enrolled in a home-based setting.

Centres account for 3 in 10 child care businesses

In April 2022, the CSPCCS counted 45,366 businesses providing care to Canadian children. Child care centres made up just over 3 in 10 (31%) of these businesses.

Home-based settings operating with a licence (33%) and without a licence (36%) made up the remaining proportions of business types.

Types of care provided

Nearly 9 in 10 centres (87.8%) in April 2022 offered full-time care, two-thirds (66.2%) offered part-time, and over one-third (36.8%) offered before- or after-school care.

Centres were less likely to offer evening, weekend or overnight care (1.7%) or drop-in or flexible care (15.8%) than unlicensed home settings.

Waitlists, staff shortages

In 2022, 78% of centres had active waitlists, and about one-third (34%) of them were looking to fill a vacant position for an employee with Early Childhood Education credentials or training.


Parental child care expenses for children aged 0 to 5 years in full-time care across Canada (excluding the territories) were on average $7,790 in 2022, similar to the average in 2020. Centre-based care was typically more expensive than home-based settings.

Looking ahead

Statistics Canada will be releasing two analytical articles—“Labour market participation of parents with young children” and “Employment situations and child care arrangements after mothers’ return to work following parental leave”—in the next issue of Economic and Social Reports on November 22, 2023.

Data on child care participation and parental expenses for 2023 will be released on December 6, 2023.

Data collection for the 2024 CSPCCS will begin in spring of that year, and the data will be released in 2025. If your business is chosen, we appreciate your participation! Click here for more information on survey participation.

Child care in Canada

Budget 2021 included a $27.2 billion investment in affordable, accessible and high-quality child care, including funding for bilateral agreements with the provinces and territories.

There is little publicly available information on the supply of or demand for child care—information that could help guide the development of Canada-wide early learning and child care. Statistics Canada is working to address data gaps through its surveys and analysis.

For more information, visit the Early Learning and Child Care Information Hub, and Research to Insights: Early Learning and Child Care.

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Contact information

For more information, contact the Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136514-283-8300; or Media Relations (