Family Life and Childcare for Expats in Canada

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: December 2013

Family life in Canada

Canada is a very large country with a relatively small population of about 35million, of which about one quarter were not born in Canada. The Canadian population is largely diversified as the government encourages people from all over the world to migrate to Canada.  Canadians speak different languages, they have different religions, cultures and family lifestyles. In Canada, you can live in a multicultural society.

Generally speaking, the most popular family style is a nuclear family consisting of a mother, a father and children. On average most of the couple are employed and normally drive to work. Children will live on their own when they become adults. However, it was reported that over 40% of young adults between the age of 20 and 29 are still living with their parents, increased from 29% twenty years ago.  

Other family structures are also popular. For example, there are over one million single parent families and hundreds of thousands step families. As claimed by the Canadian government, “In Canada, you may form the type of family that works best for you. “

Childcare in Canada

There are many types of childcare service providers in Canada such as childcare centres, home day care centres, preschools, nursery schools, early childcares, Montessori, kindergarten and before and after school child care programs. Most of them are under government administration and supervision. To find a local childcare provider, you can check here

Early childcares are normally for infant and toddlers aging between 18 to 30 months. While childcare centres are normally day cares and can accept children of the ages between 30 months to five years.

Home day care centres are provided to a group of children by a caregiver at his or her own home. This is a common childcare style in all provinces in Canada. However, not all family childcare homes are regulated under the government laws or regulations, so long as they do not exceed the maximum number of children. Some just operate on a government approval basis.

In Canada compulsory education starts from six, although children of five years old may be admitted in some provinces. Before they are five or six years old they can go to preschools or kindergartens where children can prepare for future school learning.

The childcare costs depend on where you live. Prices vary between different cities and provinces.  Generally speaking, a part time day care service will cost between CA$30 and CA$40 per day and a full time day care service will cost about CA$600 and CA$800 per month.  You should expect to spend more if your child is still an infant because the younger the age, the more staff per child. 

When you move to Canada, you will find the childcare services in Canada differ between regions. The reason is the provincial governments and local government have the authority to legislate, administrate and finance the childcare services in its jurisdiction. For example, each provincial government has their own right to determine whether to give subsidies to childcare or give tax credits to parents directly. Therefore, it is recommended to check the provincial or local government websites for details. The child care ministry of each province or territories can be found below: 



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