More than Half (54%) of Canadians Families are Financially Strained From Their Kids’ Extracurricular Activities – One in Four (27%) Has Gone into Debt as a Result

Parents Spent Over $1K on Activities in Past School Year Alone; Hockey, Language Classes and Dance Lessons Cost the Most

The author(s)
  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, September 3, 2017 —A new Ipsos poll for Global News has found that more than half (54%) of Canadian parents agree (15% strongly/39% somewhat) that the cost of their kids’ activities puts a strain on their family’s finances. Indeed, the strain is enough to put some families in the red: more than one in four (27%) agree (5% strongly/21% somewhat) they’ve gone into debt to finance their children’s activities.

The poll reveals that during the past school year, parents who spent money on extra-curricular activities for their kids spent an average of $1,120 to enroll their children in extra-curricular, community and sports activities. For some, last year’s price tag was even higher: nearly one in ten parents (9%) spent upwards of $2,000. Nearly half (45%) spent between $1 and $500, while two in ten parents (19%) claim to have spent nothing at all.

Parents aged 18-34 are the most likely to have spent nothing on extra-curricular activities in the last school year (30%, vs. 23% of those aged 55+ and 14% of those 35-54), probably in large part because they are more likely to have kids who aren’t yet old enough to pursue activities independently. While around half of parents of all age groups say that activities put a strain on their family finances, Gen X parents (aged 35-54) are the most likely to say they went into debt (28%), followed closely by Millennial parents (26%) but well ahead of Baby Boomer parents (12%).

Swimming is Most Popular and Most Affordable

Swimming is the most popular activity, with four in ten (40%) saying they plan to sign their kids up for swimming lessons. While swimming is an essential skill, part of its appeal may be its affordability: on average, parents expect to spend $193 for their child to participate in swimming – making it the least expensive of all extracurricular activities planned for the new school year.  The most expensive is hockey, weighing in at an anticipated $755 on average. More than one in ten parents (15%) plan to enroll their children in hockey this school year. The table below shows all activities that parents plan to enroll their kids in this year, ordered by perceptions of being most to least expensive.


Average amount spent on each activity




These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 16 and 22, 2017, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians parents aged 18+ from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian parents been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson, Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2002
[email protected]

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About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.

With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media, customer loyalty, marketing, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.

The author(s)
  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs