OTTAWA — The federal government’s highly touted national child-care program aims to make care more affordable for parents, but a new study suggests just how much fees are reduced will depend on where they live.
The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says because provinces and territories are taking different approaches to try to meet the government’s initial fee reduction targets, some might miss them.
“It seems to me the challenge is not so much getting a plan up and running, it’s correctly implementing it,” said David Macdonald, study co-author and a senior economist at the centre.
The Liberals’ 2021 budget promised $30 billion in new spending on a national child-care system over five years, and $9.2 billion annually afterward.
The government’s national plan is intended to cut average fees in half for regulated early learning and child-care spaces by the end of the year, and bring $10-a-day child care to every province and territory by 2026.
The four ways the provinces and territories plan to reach a 50-per-cent fee reduction include trimming set fees, giving a flat-rate rebate to parents without touching market fees, having each service provider halve their individual fees, and changing parent fee subsidies.
“Broadly speaking, most cities and most age groups will miss the federal targets. They won’t miss them by much, but they will miss them,” Macdonald said.
Different types of child care exist for different child age groups, including infant, toddler and preschool-aged care, the latter being the most common.
For preschool-aged child care, seven of 26 cities included in the study’s analysis will meet or exceed federal targets in 2022, including Whitehorse, Regina, Oakville, Ont., and Ottawa.
Meanwhile, 15 cities will be close to their targets, missing them by about $20 to $100 a month, including Lethbridge, Alta., Toronto, Saint John, N.B., and Halifax, the study says.
The four cities that will miss their targets by more than $100 a month are Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Charlottetown, the centre found.
The reason Winnipeg is one of the cities with fees set to lag behind its target has to do with its approach, Macdonald said.
“The Manitoba government is not changing their set fees at all. They’re modifying their subsidy system for lower-income households, such that the average reduction in fees will still be 50 per cent. But the benefit is really for lower-income households,” he said.
Macdonald said he hopes the provinces move to the set fee system, the most predictable and transparent way to get to the 50-per-cent reduction in child-care fees. Five provinces have adopted this method, including Quebec and most recently New Brunswick.
Many other provinces haven’t touched the prior market fees, meaning whatever the child-care centre charged is still in place, and parents would be given rebates against the fee, he said.
“Those market fees are all over the place. They can be expensive, they can be cheap, they can be in the middle. It’s much less predictable in terms of what parents might get,” Macdonald said, noting this route is harder to calculate and track for parents, and harder for provinces to manage.
The study says this approach will result in parents paying widely varying fees, though still less than what they were paying before.
Keeping the market system intact for child care also means it is unclear whether parents are actually going to get to $10 a day in three years time, Macdonald said.
Some might pay more than $10 a day as long as enough pay less than that to arrive at an average of $10, he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press
'ET Canada' cancelled by Corus Entertainment, blames 'challenging' advertising market – CTV News
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Entertainment Tonight Canada to end after 18 seasons
Canadian media company Corus Entertainment has announced it is ending flagship entertainment program Entertainment Tonight (ET) Canada after 18 seasons.
“The costs of producing a daily entertainment newsmagazine show in a challenging advertising environment have led to this decision,” read a statement posted on the company’s website on Wednesday.
“We recognize the impact this decision has on the dedicated team who have worked on the show and we thank them for their meaningful contributions over the years.”
The show’s final episode will air on Oct. 6, with reruns airing in the same time slot on Global TV until Oct. 31, a Corus spokesperson told CBC News.
The cancellation won’t impact Corus’s obligation to produce Canadian content under the rules set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the spokesperson said.
ET Canada’s website and social media platforms will also be shut down. The spokesperson declined to comment on how many people had been laid off as a result, but said the program’s hosts were impacted.
The network said it has no plans for another entertainment news show.
An hour-long, magazine-style show that focused on entertainment, celebrity, film and TV news, ET Canada began airing in 2005 on Global TV, which is owned by Corus Entertainment.
The program has been hosted by Canadian media personality Cheryl Hickey since its launch, with regular appearances by entertainment reporters, including Sangita Patel — a co-host since 2022 — plus Carlos Bustamante, Keshia Chanté and Morgan Hoffman.
The cancellation leaves ETalk, CTV’s weeknight show, as Canada’s lone major entertainment news program.
Andrea Grau, founder and CEO of entertainment publicity firm Touchwood PR, said ET Canada offered a Canadian perspective that made it stand out in the U.S.-dominated entertainment landscape.
“There was this great Entertainment Tonight brand that was going on in the U.S. — we all watched. And the idea of a Canadian arm of it was very special because it could give a different slant,” she said.
ET Canada’s demise comes during a major shift in the industry, she said, as publicists struggle to find entertainment outlets that can shine a spotlight on emerging Canadian artists and projects.
“Even though we share a language with the U.S. and we share pop culture, we are still Canadian and we have a different perspective,” Grau said, noting that ET Canada’s hosts were a mainstay on the U.S. press circuit.
“You see those relationships that have been built over the years of having Sangita [Patel] standing on a red carpet interviewing someone, or Cheryl Hickey interviewing someone. They’re recognizable to [celebrities] after all of these years, too,” she said. “They’ve created such a strong brand.”
Canada just had its lowest number of births in 17 years. What’s behind it?
The number of babies born in Canada dropped to a 17-year-low last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a declining fertility rate, data shows.
A Statistics Canada report released Tuesday showed there were 351,679 births registered across the country in 2022, which was a five per cent decrease from the previous year. This was Canada’s sharpest drop recorded since 2005.
Before 2022, the lowest number of births recorded was in 2005, with 345,044 babies born nationwide.
While the number of births in all provinces and territories declined last year, Nova Scotia was the notable outlier with a 12.8 per cent increase in live births.
The biggest decrease was in Nunavut, with the number of births dropping 11.8 per cent compared with 2021.
Canada, like many other developed countries, has been seeing declining birth trends over the past several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people’s plans to have kids, said Kate Choi, an associate professor of sociology at Western University.
“Although the fertility decline was indeed part of a larger trend of fertility decreases that have been occurring in Canada, the magnitude of the decrease is larger than what we would have anticipated in the absence of COVID-19,” she told Global News in an interview.
The high cost of living has magnified the size of the drop in births, Choi said.
“It’s very expensive to have children and right now, when everything is expensive, it’s very hard for young adults to be able to have the type of lifestyle that allows them to have children, which is contributing to delayed and forgone fertility,” she added.
It’s a concerning trend for Canada, according to Choi, who said decreasing birth rates have the potential to exacerbate population aging issues.
Canada is considered a low-fertility country and its fertility rate has been declining over the past decade.
The latest Statistics Canada data from 2021 reported a fertility rate of 1.44 children per woman that year — marking a slight increase following a steady decline since 2009.
The fertility rate is an estimate of the average number of live births a female can be expected to have in her lifetime, according to StatCan.
Lifestyle changes and work decisions are contributing factors, with a shift toward smaller families, said Mark Rosenberg, an expert in geography and professor emeritus at Queen’s University.
“I think mainly the factors we should focus on are first and foremost women’s decisions around the labour force and delaying birth until they’re in their 30s,” he told Global News in an interview.
There is also an increasing number of younger people living in single-person households, Rosenberg added.
Despite the drop in births, Canada’s population has been growing at a “record-setting pace,” surpassing the milestone of 40 million people earlier this year, due to a focus on increasing immigration.
Meanwhile, the StatCan report Tuesday also showed a rise in the proportion of babies who were born with a low birth weight — less than 2,500 grams.
Seven per cent of all babies had a low birth weight in 2022 compared with 6.6 per cent the year before.
Babies with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of complications, such as inhibited growth and development and even death, according to StatCan.
“When we see higher rates of low birth weight babies or higher rates of babies that are born who are overweight, those are issues that we should be concerned about because they reflect on people’s health,” Rosenberg said.
— with files from Global News’ Katherine Ward
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