TORONTO -- As Election Day nears, CTV News Toronto is taking a deeper look into the issues that matter most to local voters, breaking down the party promises as they apply to Battleground: GTA.

THE ISSUE

As her 14-month-old son bounces a ball with staff and other toddlers in the backyard, Toronto parent Lichia Liu is hard at work in the quiet of the shared workspace indoors.

Liu rents a desk at the Workaround, a co-working environment that offers parents office space with on-site child care for $85 a day—much less than the rate of most private daycare centres nearby.

“It’s so difficult, especially for parents whose kids are young,” Liu says of the cost of Toronto child care.

“They’re probably at a stage in their life where they are paying the mortgage, starting out a career and there’s a lot of expenses on top of that. It’s pretty much the most difficult part of your lives, expense-wise,” she said.

“It’s egregious that child care costs as much as it does,” the Workaround’s founder, Amanda Munday, said. Murray started the business while in search of a child-care solution for her own family.

For Munday, like Liu, the federal parties’ child care promises are a major consideration as Election Day nears.

“To me, it’s the Number One issue,” Munday said.

“How can child care not be at the forefront every time our elected officials get up in front of a microphone and all of the candidates get up and make promises?”

THE BACKGROUND

In a city where the cost of child care can easily top $20,000 per year per child—for anyone fortunate enough to secure a spot—the price tag for parents has climbed beyond reach for many.

Families scramble to add their names to daycare waitlists even before their babies are born and are then made to fork over the equivalent of a second mortgage to someone to watch their kids so they can continue to work.

“I think it’s about time that we address that issue,” Liu said.

THE LIBERAL PROMISE

“If you’re a parent, you deserve affordable child care,” Justin Trudeau pledged Aug. 17 on the campaign trail. ”You need affordable early learning and child care.”

The Liberals are promising a $10-a-day national child care system within five years, at a cost of $30 billion. They say they would also reduce child care fees by 50 per cent in the next year, build 250,000 new child care spaces and hire 40,000 more early childhood educators.

THE NDP PROMISE

“If you want, truly want, universal child care—if that is something that matters to you—vote New Democrat,” NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said Sept. 6, alleging the reigning Liberals have had lots of time to implement their plan.

“We’ll get it done. You can’t believe Liberals who promise something and then drag it out.”

In addition to supporting a $10-a-day child care system, the New Democrats are vowing to create more child care spaces and eliminate waitlists, save not-for-profit child care centres that are at risk of closure and ensure that child care workers are paid a fair, living wage.

THE GREEN PROMISE

“It should be without fees,” Green leader Annamie Paul said Aug. 17 of the country’s child care. “It should be universal.”

The Green Party is promising to increase federal child care funding to one per cent of GDP annually, ensure the training, recruitment and retention of well-paid staff and eliminate the GST on all the construction costs related to child care spaces.

THE CONSERVATIVE PROMISE

Instead of a universal child-care program, the Conservatives are promising to convert the existing child-care expense deduction into a refundable tax credit of up to $6,000 per child, to cover up to 75 per cent of the cost of child care, based on income.

“Parents know what’s best, particularly with the flexibility needed for families coming out the pandemic,” leader Erin O’Toole explained on Aug. 16 while on the campaign trail.

The most significant benefit from the proposed Tory tax credit would go to families with income below $50,000. The money would be paid out to parents over the course of the year so there would be no waiting for the refund.