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GIVE 6IX: Overcoming the Affordable Daycare Shortage

Written by Angie Peters, President & CEO of YSM

It’s no secret women disproportionately experience poverty in Toronto. Single parents, the majority of whom are women, and racialized females represent the highest percentage of our city’s residents who are living in poverty today. Why is that?

One key reason is lack of access to affordable daycare – child care is expensive!


The only way for a single mother living under the low-income measure to even consider going to work or returning to school to upgrade her education for higher-paying employment is to get coveted subsidized daycare spots for her children.

The waiting list for subsidized daycare is lengthy, so can often take months to get a spot. And, the only way to be added to the waiting list is if she has a job or proof of enrollment in school of 25 hours a week or more.

How long could you keep a job or your studies up without a place to take your kids until the waitlist opened up a spot for you?


  • Toronto is Canada’s child poverty capital with more than 1.3 million children experiencing poverty (1).
  • In 2018 the child poverty rate was 5.8% for those living in couple families, compared with 26.2% for those in female lone-parent families (2).
  • Toronto’s child care fees are among the top eight highest across Canada (3) with annual costs topping $22,000 for infants (5).
  • 32% of women between 25 to 44 years working part-time said the reason they are not working full-time is so they can care for their children (4).
  • Of the 80,000 licensed child care spots in Toronto, only 30,700 are subsidized (5).


The City of Toronto plans to create 30,000 new daycare spots by 2026! Even so, it will take a very long time to get those spots up and running and even then, they will be too few.


New to Canada, Ola* enrolled in courses to train to become a Personal Support Worker. With two young children and no family nearby, she needed help to get started.

Fortunately, YSM’s Evergreen Nursery was able to step in to offer diapers, clothing, snowsuits, a homemade baby blanket, a double stroller, formula and other baby food. Ola would come to Evergreen weekly to pick-up supplies for her children and enjoy a free, healthy meal for herself and even access health care while she was there. YSM’s staff helped Ola find two subsidized daycare spots in the same location so both her children could attend together, which also helped her drop-off schedule considerably.

mother with two children

“The [YSM] nursery program has been the pillar I can rest my shoulder on,” said Ola. “Without a pillar there is no house, it will collapse. Without YSM Evergreen, I don’t know where I’d be.”


Invite your community to participate in a new toy drive and give YSM or another charity a head start on holiday preparations to ensure parents and caregivers can offer their children special surprises when Christmas arrives!

Advocate for changes to positively impact families in your community. Check out our advocacy templates and tips here.

Donate diapers, baby food or supplies to YSM and other food banks so young parents can focus on their kids without the worry of securing hard to afford necessities.

Volunteer in a local community centre or after-school program to support caregivers in your community.

Share what you learn with your community and invite them to learn along with you, to help eradicate chronic poverty wherever you live.

Continue your GIVE 6IX learning journey:

Further reading: GIVE 6IX: Bystanders No More, Overcoming the Health Barrier, Overcoming the Barrier of Isolation and Overcoming Barriers to Employment. Subscribe below to get the next article directly to your inbox.

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*Name and photo changed to protect privacy.

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