Two-fifths (42 per cent) of Canadian parents postponed returning to work in 2022 due to difficulties finding childcare, according to a new survey by Statistics Canada.

The survey, which polled the parents of more than 11,500 children, found roughly four in 10 parents using childcare in early 2022 reported difficulty finding care. Among respondents who looked for childcare but weren’t using it, more than half reported difficulties finding it.

Parents of children younger than one year were most likely (47 per cent) to report difficulties finding childcare, while respondents with children aged four or five attending school were the least likely (35 per cent) to report difficulties. Among respondents using childcare who reported difficulties finding it, more than half (57 per cent) found it difficult to find care in their community, while 46 per cent had difficulty just finding affordable care.

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Roughly two-fifths (38 per cent) of respondents said the difficulties in their search for childcare caused them to change their work or study schedule, while 37 per cent said they worked fewer hours and 33 per cent paid more for childcare than they wanted to. Almost a quarter had difficulty finding care specifically due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among respondents who weren’t using childcare and who reported difficulty finding it, close to two-thirds (61 per cent) said it was difficult to find affordable care, while more than a third (35 per cent) had difficulty finding care specifically due to the pandemic, a decrease from 43 per cent in late 2020.

The survey noted there was an eight per cent decrease in the use of childcare over the course of the pandemic, from 60 per cent in 2019 to 52 per cent in both 2020 and early 2022. However, by early 2022, the use of childcare centres was back to pre-pandemic rates, while use of home-based childcare decreased.

Read: National childcare program ‘first step’ in getting women back to work: expert