Looking for Mary Poppins - MoneySense

Looking for Mary Poppins

If you have two or more kids, a nanny could be more economical than daycare.


When my daughter Alex, was born, I set about looking for Mary Poppins. I knew I wanted to have a nanny care for her because a) I worked from home some days and wanted to be able to see her whenever I didn’t have my nose to the grindstone and b) I was raised with a nanny and had no experience with daycare. The thought of it was exhausting. I like that I’d be able to leave my baby asleep in her own bed as I headed off to work. And I liked that if she came down with a cold or any of the myriad diseases of childhood, I wouldn’t be scrambling to balance home and work.

I found my Mary Poppins. Her name was Miss Sharon. She helped me raise my kids until Alex was almost 8 and Malcolm was 6. (We still have dinner together and talk about our kids.) She was a blessing. But she didn’t come cheap. Not everyone is as lucky as I was. And for some, daycare is the only viable option.

If you live in Manitoba, you’re in luck. You’ll pay some of the lowest daycare rates going according to a Today’s Parent survey. If you live in Ontario you’ll pay some of the highest. And if you live in a city you’ll pay far more than your country cousins. While a single child family might see daycare as the only option, two kids make a nanny far more feasible and three or more make a nanny downright economical.

Average fee* per month by province

  • Newfoundland = $588
  • Nova Scotia = $601
  • PEI = $546
  • New Brunswick = $563
  • Ontario = $814
  • Manitoba = $399
  • Saskatchewan = $610
  • Alberta = $750
  • BC = $775

*Non-subsidized for full-time preschool care

Live-out nannies earn anywhere from $450 to $750 a week while those for whom you provide room and board typically make about $300 a week. I’m actually surprised at this since that’s what I was paying 18 years ago.

The weekly cost isn’t all you’ll have to think about though. You’ll have to follow the labour rules about safety, filing taxes and the like. You are, as an employer, responsible so you better know the rules. If you decide to hire from abroad, there are even more regulations with which you need to be familiar.

Your childcare expenses are tax deductible up to a maximum of $7,000 for each kid under the age of 7 and $4,000 for each child between 7 and 16 years. You’ll need receipts or cancelled cheques to claim your expenses and your total deductions cannot exceed two-thirds of your income. I ended up spending almost all my disposable income to pay the woman who helped me raise my babies, and it was worth every penny. While I kept my hand in at work and covered my share of the fixed expenses, Miss Sharon helped me to create the environment I wanted my kids to learn and grow in.