Monthly Archives: March 2017

Budget 2017

Budget 2017After what feels like ages of waiting and anticipation, the 2017 Canadian federal budget was finally announced last week by finance minister, Bill Morneau.

Morneau delivered his bilingual speech to the House of Commons in Ottawa yesterday afternoon, which was met with several rounds of applause from the Liberals.

Morneau

Why might this event warrant an entire blog post on a caregiver placement agency’s website?

Because, just as expected and as postulated in media rumblings since December of last year, the federal budget allocated substantial sums of money to tackle the Canadian childcare crisis, a topic we addressed a couple of posts back.

So what exactly did the budget account for in the matter of childcare in Canada?

Childcare

Building on the commitment the Liberal government made in 2016 to ‘help Canadian children get the best start in life, and to better support Canadian families,’ this year’s budget proposes to invest an additional $7 billion over the next decade to ‘to support and create more high-quality, affordable childcare spaces’ across Canada.

$7 billion certainly seems like a lot!

However, this impressive number becomes somewhat less impressive when you consider the following:

  • This investment in childcare won’t begin to take effect until 2018-2019
  • While this money will create more childcare spaces, it won’t necessarily make the cost of such a space more affordable

According to Global News, only three provinces actually set caps on childcare costs. Therefore, the rest of the Canadian provinces are supposedly more likely to increase the number of childcare spots, rather than lower the costs of existing spots.

Nevertheless, in the very least, the allocation of this money, along with the government’s pledge to develop a National Framework on Early Learning and Child Care so that all provinces and territories can work together towards the common goal of providing more affordable childcare that will best serve families, do show that the government recognizes the necessity of its role in solving the problem.

Filipino nannyAnother provision the 2017 budget made that may improve the childcare situation in Canada is the proposed improvements to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). 

The TFWP allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to fill temporary labour shortages when qualified Canadian workers are unavailable. The program itself has undergone many changes over the years, and has made the process of hiring temporary workers such as nannies that much more labourious and difficult.

The most frustrating part of the application process is arguable the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), a topic to which we dedicated another entire blog post, the document that an employer must obtain to prove that no Canadian is available to fill a position, and therefore that the employer had no choice but to hire someone from overseas. The current processing fee for this application is $1,000.

As it happens, much to ours and many families’ delight, the budget proposes ‘to eliminate the Labour Market Impact Assessment processing fee’.

However, just as with the caveat on the aforementioned proposal of the $7 billion to be injected into the childcare sector, this provision too comes with its own conditions.

The processing fee will only be eliminated for families in the following circumstances:

  • Families seeking to hire foreign caregivers for family members with high medical needs
  • Families seeking to hire caregivers for their children with less than $150,000 in annual income

Immigration Canada

 

The budget also proposes ‘to invest $279.8 million over five years…to support the continued delivery of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,’ which, supposedly, would improve the program overall, in particular in benefit to the workers themselves and their ability to apply for permanent residency after completion of the program.

The budget is, however, nonspecific as to exactly what that money will go towards.

Federal Budget 2017

So, what can we conclude from this year’s budget address?

A number of media sources, including this one from CBC, purport that while Budget 2017 did propose some commendable changes and improvements for Canadian families, especially in relation to funding for childcare, it didn’t go nearly far enough in terms of addressing the issue of equality, an oft-emphasized ideal since Trudeau took office.

For example, no provisions were made about raising taxes on the wealthy or other measures that would potentially bridge the economic gap, a move that some have interpreted was made ‘partly because of uncertainty about what the Trump administration will do next.’

Whether or not that is probable remains to be seen.

For now, what is most relevant for us is the elimination of the LMIA processing fee and the question of whether or not more childcare spots will become available to Canadian families beginning next year.

Until then, only time will tell whether the proposed budget will take effect.

Sources

“Building a strong middle class: Budget 2017.” Budget 2017, 22 March 2017.

“Federal Budget 2017: Liberals extend parental leave to 18 months, boost childcare funding.” Global News, 22 March 2017.

“It never seems a good time for a “tax-the-rich” budget: Don Pitts.” CBC News, 23 March 2017.

Where to Au Pair: Ottawa

Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Introducing Canada’s capital city: Ottawa.

Located right on the border between Ontario and Quebec, and about a 1.5 hour drive from the Canada-U.S. border, Ottawa was incorporated into Canada in 1855 and has since become the country’s fourth most populous city and a major political and technological centre.

Ottawa Canal Spring

The home of current Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, as well as the famous Rideau Canal (a UNESCO World Heritage Site which, during the winter, becomes the world’s largest skating rink!), Ottawa is a Canadian metropolis you ought not to miss during your au pair placement in Canada!

With the help of Ottawa Tourism, we’ve come up with a list of the top reasons to do your au pair placement in Ottawa. Those reasons are:

Ottawa Canal Winter

1. The Canadian winter experience

From skating on the Rideau Canal and the Rink of Dreams, to skiing and mountain-biking at Camp Fortune, cross-country skiing at Gatineau Park in the winter on 200 kilometers’ worth of trails, and to Winterlude, one of the largest celebrations of winter in North America to top it all off, Ottawa is perfect for the winterphile! 

Embrace the cold and get lost out on the slopes or atop frozen-over bodies of water, just like a true Canadian 😉

Ottawa Park

2. The city of green

Ottawa may be a dense capital city with just under a million residents, but it is fortunately laden with dozens of public parks and hundreds of kilometers of walking paths along both the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River.

The entrance to the aforementioned Gatineau Park is just four kilometers from downtown, making it an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Ottawa Eco-Odyssee

3. The youth culture

Nearly half of the population of Ottawa is under 35, making it one of the youngest cities in Canada and just the atmosphere a prospective au pair might need as they embark upon what just might be their first time living apart from their families!

Not only that, it has often ranked as the most educated city in the country, boasting five universities and two colleges in total. You’re sure to run into some of Canada’s best and brightest while doing your placement in Ottawa.

To top it off, there are a number of attractions that are fun for the whole family, such as the Eco-Odyssee Park, which should make it that much easier to keep your host siblings entertained!

Montreal

4. The international crossroads

For those of you who are eager to take advantage of your time in Canada to travel, Ottawa is the perfect home-base for you.

Montreal, Quebec’s largest city, is an easy two hour transit to the east, if you’re feeling like you need some authentic poutine on your day off, while Toronto is about five hours to the west, if you feel like catching a Toronto Raptors game on your first weekend off-duty!

For a more international weekend (if not, for an extended vacation!) consider New York City or Boston, both just under a 1.5 hour flight away and culturally-rich American metropolitan centres.

Ottawa Senators5. The Canadian experience

There are so many things about Ottawa that make it such a quintessentially Canadian city.

Firstly, it is bilingual, which is not at all surprising given that it is right on the Quebec border.

Secondly, Ottawans are proud to be the home of the Ottawa Senators, a professional ice hockey team that has qualified for 15 of the last 19 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let’s face it, can you really call yourself a true Canadian if hockey isn’t a sport you love?

Ottawa Parliament Hill

Lastly, but certainly not least, Ottawa boasts a plethora of cultural attractions that are bound to make you feel a sense of Canadian pride: the Parliament of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History, and 24 Sussex Drive (yes, that’s where Justin and Sophie live!).

So, if you chose Canada as the country you want to become an au pair in because you want to immerse yourself in Canadian culture, it doesn’t get more Canadian than Ottawa!

The Canadian Childcare Crisis

Kids running enjoying summer

You may have heard it said that there is a childcare crisis in Canada.

Incredulous? Well, if you Google the term ‘childcare crisis Canada,’ you’ll get seven hundred and forty thousand results.

What could possibly be the reason for the childcare situation in Canada to be deemed a ‘crisis’? You guessed it.

Childcare is expensive

But just how expensive is childcare in Canada?

Let’s look at some of the numbers.

Most expensive cities for childcareAccording to Global News, as of October of last year, the top three most expensive cities for childcare are Toronto, St. John’s, and Vancouver (the third of which will surprise no one).

To get a sense of just how expensive this is, let’s take a look at the five most expensive cities in Canada for university tuition:

Most expensive cities for tuitionYou read it correctly. Childcare for a year in Toronto is almost twice as costly as a year of university tuition in London.

What could possibly be the reason for childcare costs in Canada being that exorbitant?

According to Today’s Parent, the answer is simple: there is a lack of government funding.

Not only that, but the actual number of spots available in Canadian daycares is far too few for the number of families requiring care for their children. An article from the Huffington Post estimates that there are only enough spots in daycares for one in five children.

So how does Canada rank in childcare on the world stage?

Canada childcare rankAnd since then, the costs of childcare have only increased, while the available spots in licensed, regulated, and/or subsidized daycares, has only decreased.

So you can see why the term ‘crisis’ applies here. But is this ‘crisis’ actually universal across Canada?

For the most part, the answer unfortunately is yes.

The province of Quebec, however, is the exception.

As of last year, the cost of childcare in Quebec, thanks to government subsidies, was, regardless of the child’s age:

  • $7.30/day for families with an income of less than $50,000 annually
  • $20/day for families with an income between $50,000-$150,000 annually

This makes British Columbia’s proposal of $10/day for childcare seem a little less ‘radical’ to those in government who would be opposed to increasing the budget for childcare subsidies. After all, according to $10aDay.ca:

BC Childcare

Not only that, in the approximately 20 years Quebec has been making universal access to low-cost childcare a priority, there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of mothers who are able to and do join the workplace which, concurrently, has over time led to the burgeoning of Quebec’s economy.

Sounds like Quebec has got it figured out.

So, what can be done to remedy this crisis in the rest of Canada?

According to the Toronto Star in an article published just days ago (8 March), change will be difficult without the support of the government.

Interestingly, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has yet to fulfill his campaign promise to ‘deliver affordable, high-quality, flexible, and fully inclusive childcare for Canadian families,’ the work for which he claimed would commence in his first 100 days in office.

Notwithstanding, the three ideas that Carolyn Ferns posits in this Toronto Star article that might transform the childcare crisis in Ontario (or perhaps on a more broad scale, Canada as a whole) are:

  1. Making childcare more affordable
  2. Making the wages for educators more fair
  3. Opting for non-profit childcare spaces

Hard to argue with that. Especially coming from Ferns, the public policy and government relations coordinator for the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.

In the meantime, what are our other childcare options?

Childcare crisis Today's ParentSome families hit the jackpot and can rely on the children’s grandparents for free, flexible childcare until the children are old enough to start kindergarten.

Some families hire part-time babysitters to cut the parents a break from time to time.

Some families do a nanny-share with another family and their children for convenience and to cut costs.

Other families prefer to hire caregivers through agencies like us.

Interested in finding out more about one of your childcare options?

Give us a call today at 1 (800) 820 8308.

Update: THE FEDERAL BUDGET WILL BE ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY, 22 MARCH.

Childcare is among the six things to watch, according to the Globe and Mail.

Sources

“Solving Ontario’s childcare crisis.” Toronto Star, 8 March 2017.

“Child care.” RealChange.ca, 2017.

“How child care costs compare in Canada (hint: they’re way more than tuition).” Global News, 13 October 2016.

“B.C.’s child care crisis: ‘so much more stressful than it has ever been.” Vancouver Sun, 24 September 2016.

“It’s Time to Rip the Bandaid Off Canada’s Daycare Crisis.” Huffington Post, 26 April 2016.

“The Canadian child care crisis.” Today’s Parent, 18 February 2015.