In 2021, Statistics Canada reported that 367,684 babies were born in the country. This was an increase from 2020, but is still less than the number of births between 2017 and 2019.
Due to rising costs across the board, many would-be parents are postponing having a child to save money.
This, of course, begs the question, “How much does it cost to have a child in Canada?”
Accounting for inflation, the average cost of raising a child to adulthood in Canada is $281,880 spread out over the course of the child’s life.
Below, I’ll outline some of the most common expenses associated with having a child and raising a child in Canada. I’ll also show you some of the key government benefits and tax credits that could help relieve the financial pressure associated with being a parent.
According to a 2015 study by Moneysense, the total cost to raise a child in Canada came out to be $253,946. Between 2015 and 2021, though, inflation increased sharply. To account for this, we would need to add an additional 11.7% to Moneysense’s projected costs.
Based on the projections that I presented in my CTV news column, the total cost to raise a child in Canada would be:
- Lifetime (age 0 to 18): $281,880
- Average per year: $15,560
- Average per month: $1,305
For many Canadians, the idea of coming up with an extra $1,305 every month may seem like a challenge. This would mean that you’d need to earn an extra $326 every week to afford a child.
If you and your partner are raising a child together, this financial burden is easier to bear, as you’ll both be able to contribute to expenses. However, the additional expenses can be challenging for single parents, especially if their parental duties keep them from being able to work full-time.
Thankfully, the federal government offers the Canada Child Benefit along with other provincial child and family benefits that can help cover some of the costs of raising a child.
Many of the expenses associated with caring for a child are also tax-deductible, allowing you to keep more of your money, often resulting in an annual tax refund.
The cost of raising a child is one thing, but giving birth can also be costly, depending on your circumstance and residency status.
If you’re a permanent Canadian resident or citizen with public health insurance, then you can take advantage of Canada’s universal healthcare system. This covers many (if not all) birth-related expenses.
However, giving birth in Canada can be very expensive if you’re not a Canadian citizen or don’t have permanent residency status. If you visit a hospital to give birth without health insurance, the costs charged by Canadian hospitals can total anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000, depending on factors, such as:
- Vaginal birth vs. C-section
- Medication administered by the hospital
- Ultrasound fees
- NICU expenses (for premature births)
If you have international health insurance or Medicare (for US residents), then your insurance should cover a portion of these costs after you meet your deductible.
If you’re a Canadian resident or citizen, I strongly recommend signing up for public healthcare, as it’s funded by taxes and available to all eligible Canadians.
If not, though, you should purchase international health insurance before giving birth to help reduce the costs associated with giving birth in Canada as an international traveller or immigrant.
Not all mothers want to give birth in a hospital; some prefer a natural home birth with the assistance of a midwife. Generally speaking, natural home births are less expensive than hospital births (assuming there are no complications).
According to data from Wise, the average cost of a home birth in Canada is $2,500 without insurance. However, most of this cost should be covered if you have public healthcare and work with a registered Canadian midwife.
Thanks to public healthcare, giving birth in Canada is relatively inexpensive for permanent residents and citizens. However, once your child is out of the hospital, they are your responsibility to begin caring for.
As a parent, you’re obligated to care for your child until they reach adulthood (age 18). This means taking care of necessities such as:
- Daycare (if you’re working)
Below, I’ll go over each of these points in further detail and provide some data about what to expect.
If you’ve visited a Canadian grocery store recently, then you’ve no doubt noticed that food prices are on the rise. Everything from staples like dairy and produce to your favourite snacks, and breakfast foods are getting more expensive.
While you can lower your grocery costs by couponing, buying in bulk, and taking advantage of sales, these strategies can only save you so much.
According to Moneysense’s study, each child consumes around $1,800 per year worth of food. This number is only getting higher as inflation and food costs increase. Today, that number is likely closer to $2,000.
The nice thing about being an adult is that you don’t have to purchase new clothes as often. I still have some great clothes that I’ve fit into for years. Children, on the other hand, are constantly growing.
On average, expect to buy new clothes for your child at least every six months.
Unlike you, who may only replace certain items in their closet, your child will need a completely new wardrobe to accommodate their growing body. This includes:
Although children’s clothes are considerably cheaper than adult clothing, the average Canadian parent spends over $800 per year on their child’s clothing.
If you choose to send your child to public school, you won’t be required to pay for tuition or general schooling. However, there will always be some costs associated with your child’s education, including:
- School-related sports and sports equipment
- School supplies (backpacks, pencils, notebooks, etc.)
- School field trips
- Donations to teachers and classes
If you choose to send your child to private primary or secondary school, then you’ll have to pay the annual tuition charged by the institution, which could be anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per year.
One of the most expensive education-related expenses is the cost of buying your child a laptop and a smartphone. Since many classes and school correspondence are facilitated by the school’s online portal, your child will need a decent computer for school.
Additionally, most parents purchase their child a mobile device so they can stay in touch with them. Although you can find affordable phones for less than $100, you can bet that your child will do their best to pressure you into buying them the latest $800+ iPhone or Samsung phone.
Two-parent households may be able to save money on daycare and childcare costs in Canada, providing that one of the parents is willing to stay at home most of the time.
However, if both parents are committed to full-time careers or if the child lives in a single-parent household, then you’ll likely have to pay a daycare to watch your child while you’re out working.
The federal government is working with provincial governments to reduce the rising cost of childcare. As it stands, though, daycare is still rather expensive and can cost parents between $800 and $1,300 per month.
Once your child begins attending public school (which is free), parents will be able to save on daycare costs.
Moneysense estimates that the average Canadian parent spends $2,152 on transportation-related costs for their child every year. This number can vary significantly, depending on a number of different factors, though.
The most common transportation expenses that parents will need to pay for include:
- Fuel costs to transport their child to and from school, work, and extracurricular events
- Purchasing a bus pass or public transportation card for their child
- Paying for rideshare rides for their children
- The cost to upgrade their small vehicle to a larger vehicle to accommodate children
Thankfully, most provinces offer free or reduced-cost public transportation passes for children and students under 18. If the school your child attends offers a public school bus, this can also save parents money.
If you’re worried about expensive fuel costs, you can save on fuel by switching to an electric or hybrid vehicle.
Food, clothing, education, daycare, and transportation costs are usually the first things that come to most parents’ minds when considering the cost of having a child in Canada. However, there are also other expenses and investments to account for, including:
- Saving for your child’s post-secondary education
- Paying for extracurricular activities
- Birthday and holiday gifts
- Purchasing a car for your teenager
- Increased living costs for a bigger housing unit
Like the cost of food and clothing, tuition costs are also rising. To ensure that your child is able to pursue further education, you may want to start setting aside money for your child in an RESP account.
If you maximize your contributions, you may receive grants to the account from the federal government. However, saving for your child’s education can still be costly, especially if you’re committed to saving a set amount every month.
If your child wants to learn karate, become a ballerina, become a gymnast, or pursue other extracurricular activities, then you’re going to have to shell out some extra money. In some cases, these classes can cost hundreds of dollars per month, which can add up at the end of the year.
Don’t forget about gifts on birthdays and holidays. When children are younger, gifts can usually be purchased for cheaper. Once they start to get older, though, they’re going to want more expensive items, like a new laptop, the latest gaming system, name-brand clothes, limited edition shoes, and more.
If you want to throw a birthday party for your kid, you’ll also need to consider costs like:
- The birthday cake
- Renting an event space
- Hiring entertainers
Of course, you can spend as much (or little) as you want to buy gifts for your children. However, you’re undoubtedly going to spend a little bit extra every year around the holidays and their birthdays.
My parents didn’t buy me a car when I turned 16. Instead, I had to work for it. That being said, many of my friends started driving while they were still in secondary school.
If you choose to buy a car for your teenager, then expect to pay anywhere from $8,000 to $25,000, depending on the vehicle you get for them. Keep in mind that these numbers don’t account for inflation or changes in the auto market that could occur between now and when your child turns 16.
Last but not least, most parents find that they need to purchase or rent a larger home or apartment to accommodate their children. While your newborn baby may sleep in the same room as you, many parents prefer to have their child sleep in a nursery. Eventually, all children will need their own room.
Renting or buying space with more bedrooms almost always costs more.
According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, the average cost of living for Canadian households is just under $69,000 per year. While you can live comfortably under this amount, this is the average that most households spend.
If you want to be able to keep up with your child’s expenses, save for their education, and meet the increased annual expense of $15,560, I recommend that you and your spouse have a combined annual salary of at least $84,000 (based on the average cost of living).
The cost of raising a child or children in Canada can be expensive. However, the government provides a number of programs and benefits that allow parents to save more money, receive benefit payments, and pay less taxes.
The Canada Child Benefit is, by far, the most widespread benefit that Canadian parents receive. This benefit pays a maximum of $1,330 for a single child, which is then divided into four quarterly payments that are issued directly to your bank account.
If your child attends daycare or requires other childcare, then you can write these expenses off on your taxes. The amount that you pay into eligible childcare expenses can all be deducted from your taxes, which can help you save money on taxes or receive a larger refund at the end of the year.
Adoption can be a rather expensive process in Canada. Thankfully, the government allows parents to write off most expenses associated with the adoption of a new child.
Canada’s employment insurance (EI) program offers benefits to individuals who are temporarily unable to work or who are between jobs. However, the program also provides benefits to parents who’ve recently had a baby or adopted a child.
Both of the parents can apply for EI benefits, allowing them to earn a percentage of their usual income while they stay at home with their new child.
The maximum that each parent can receive in maternity and parental leave benefits is 55% of their usual weekly income, up to $638.
Not including the cost of giving birth, the average cost to have a child in Canada and raise them to adulthood is just over a quarter-million dollars for each child. Now, you can see why people say that children are expensive.
The cost of having a child isn’t the only thing you should consider when having a child, though.
There are many lower and middle-income parents who are successfully able to raise their children by maintaining a responsible budget, taking advantage of government aid, and finding creative ways to save money.
Keep on reading to see my guide on how to save money, even if you’re on a tight budget!