Allow us to paint a picture for you.
This is Maria. Maria has a two year old daughter. She doesn’t have a university degree and as a result, she “isn’t qualified” for most jobs. She’s working for minimum wage ($11.35) and splitting her time between two part time positions because neither is willing to give her full time hours. She averages about 36 hours per week between the two.
According to the 2011 Canadian National Household Survey, the average employment income in female single-parent families with children under 6 years of age is $21,200. (By contrast, the average in male single-parent families is $43,300.) This is almost spot-on for Maria – at 36 hours per week, making $11.35 an hour, Maria is making about $21,247 per year.
Let’s break down that $21,247. That works out to approximately $1,770 per month before deductions – about $1,632 after deductions.
A two bedroom apartment in Winnipeg averages $1,167 per month (but ranges from as low as $750 to as high as $2,200). For argument’s sake, let’s suppose Maria has found an apartment for $750. That leaves her with $884 per month.
The average daycare in Manitoba costs $451 per month for toddlers and $651 per month for infants. Maria has had to find a flexible daycare provider because she works varying shifts – she ends up paying more than the “average”, at $500 per month for daycare. That leaves her with $384 per month.
With that $384, Maria still needs to pay for: utilities (heat, hydro, phone, internet, etc.) / transportation – whether it’s car payments or a bus pass ($92 for four weeks) / groceries / diapers and wipes / clothes / household supplies / etc.
Unfortunately, many “entry level” jobs that pay just a little higher require a university degree – any university degree.
But on her budget, there’s no way that Maria can afford university. The average cost of tuition for a year at the University of Manitoba in 2017/2018 was $5,200. This does not include the cost of books, parking or additional fees.
Maria’s story isn’t unique. In 2016, approximately 19% of Canadian children ages 0-14 were living in a single-parent household (approximately 1,114,005 children). Of those children, roughly 81% of them are living with a single-mother.
According to Michael Saini, a Canadian social worker & researcher:
“Single parents will always be a reality — one that will remain irrevocably tied to poverty, unless public policy changes its course. There needs to be a way to help these young parents get out of poverty as well, to give them opportunities for education and to enhance their skills. If we make healthy children and healthy families. It will be to the benefit of society."