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Why working moms get shortchanged (literally)

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Why working moms get shortchanged (literally)

Photo courtesy iStockphoto/OJO_Images If you’re a working mom, you’re probably earning less as a result of having children. The icing on the cake: Preschool-aged and younger children require day care and, depending on where you live, the fees that go along with childcare can cost more than one-third of your earnings. In a study published this week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reports that our country ranks second last in government spending on early childhood education and care. And, though childcare costs in Canada aren’t among the highest worldwide, Canadians are more likely to need day care since fewer parents stay at home. (More than 75 percent of mothers with children under the age of six are part of the labour force.) Two-income households are quite common and even necessary for families of all sizes. But factor in a child (or children) and getting to work (and making ends meet) suddenly becomes less affordable. That burden is even more substantial for those living in cities where incomes are relatively low in comparison to childcare fees. The CCPA report, “ The Parent Trap,” compared median unsubsidized childcare fees for infant, toddler and preschooler care to women’s incomes in Canada’s big cities. That affordability index indicates that Brampton, Ont., was the least affordable city for working moms, who spend 36 percent of their salaries on childcare services. Other Ontario cities—Toronto, London and Windsor—as well as Surrey, B.C., weren’t far behind. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Quebec cities fared the best. Gatineau was the most affordable at four percent of income, while Laval, Montreal, Longueil and Quebec City trailed that score at five or six percent. The CCPA contends that more affordable childcare fees across the country would be beneficial to not only families but also the economy at large, saying that more parents will choose to work if it makes financial sense. And more working parents means more demand for childcare services. Affordability or lack thereof doesn’t end there, though. The high cost of childcare is amplified by the fact that women who leave the workforce face financial penalties as a result. According to a 2010 report, mothers can suffer a three percent wage loss, known as the “motherhood gap,” per yearlong maternity leave. It makes sense why some women are choosing to drop their careers in favour of staying home with kids. If they’re not realizing their full earning potential and a large portion of income is getting eaten up by day care, there isn’t much incentive (financial or otherwise) to work. Photo courtesy iStockphoto/OJO_Images
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Why working moms get shortchanged (literally)

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