Quebec’s childcare plan



The province of Quebec set up its own universal daycare system in 1997 and some other jurisdictions now consider it a template for their own systems.  In Canada in 2021 the federal government announced plans for a national system modelled after the Quebec plan. This plan therefore bears scrutiny.

It turns out that Quebec has had a long history of deep concern about rights of its citizens, particularly to retain francophone identity, culture and language, amidst large media and legislative presence of nearby anglophone communities. Focus on the care of children has been closely linked to concerns to ensure birth rate and a tax base but goals for the empowerment of mothers and the enhanced educational benefit of daycare have only had mixed results.  The heavy involvement of the union lobby for daycare is felt in the province as parents were pressured to use the low cost daycare system provided by government. The system did not increase the birth rate as was hoped and the province created its own more generous maternity benefits plan to try to do that. Government found over time that the costs of operating daycare skyrocketed. To meet these expenses, taxes went up and in an effort to reduce expenses, funding for those not using daycare was reduced creating inequalities.  At the daycare. group sizes were increased to keep costs down, and studies of the benefits of daycare started to show problematic outcomes given the large group sizes.

The push for a daycare space for every child, paid for by government just in case it is needed, has become a powerful lobby with adjustments of jargon to promote that care style. However polls consistently show that Quebec parents would prefer funding directed to parents not just to the daycare so they could chose daycare, care by sitter, nanny, parent or grandparent as they prefer. These polls tend to be ignored .


1543  Early French settlers came to the area and named it Canada,as a colony of New France.

1663 – In the early days of New France there few female settlers. The birth rate was low per thousand settlers because few were women but the fertility rate of the women was high. Settlers often had large families to ensure that some babies survived and could help with the farms and settlements.

1760- The French were defeated in a battle with the English.

1763 – By Royal Proclamation New France is put under British rule, discouraging practice of Roman Catholicism, and aiming to assimilate French speakers to English culture and laws. An influx of English settlers to the area is anticipated but does not happen. Three districts in the area are united to form the Province of Quebec The Catholic church is permitted to continue to exert influence and francophones have a very high birth rate of 65 births per thousand per year.

1774- During the unrest in the American colonies the British government tries to secure the loyalty of francophones. The British Parliament rescinds the 1763 proclamation and agrees to permit those in New France to own property, and to practice their Roman Catholic religion. The Quebec Act lets them still have French civil law for private matters  though it requires them to follow English criminal law, and English common  law for public administration.. The area called Quebec is enlarged.  There remains an anger at English domination and the high francophone birth rate is seen as a subtle move to just outnumber the English. This practice is  nicknamed “la revanche du berceau” the revenge of the cradle. 

1791- Under the Constitutional Act the area of Quebec province is now named Lower Canada, while nearby Ontario is called Upper Canada, since it is farther up the St. Lawrence River and closer to its source.  When those escaping the American revolution come to the area as United
Empire Loyalists. they refuse  to live under French civil law or use the French land system .The British government separates the areas. Upper Canada has as capital Niagara on the Lake but later moves it to Toronto (York) in 1796.  The government of Lower Canada by contrast was mostly  run by francophone professionals and small merchants.

1791- It is noticed that to vote in Lower Canada a person need only be a landowner so women take advantage of this ‘glitch’ and try to vote

1831- Immigration to the Quebec area  surges with over 50,000 in 1831  and in 1832, 52,000 more

1837 – The Parti canadien is a nationalist party in Quebec,  also referred to as the patri patriote. It aims to end English minority dominance over the francophone majority.  In 1837 martial law is declared and the Constitution is suspended.

1840– British appointee Lord Durham recommends uniting Lower and Upper Canada so that the francophones are again a minority and have less influence. Upper Canada is now named Canada West and Lower Canada (Quebec) is called Canada East.  The Act of Union now makes them all the Province of Canada with its capital in Montreal.

1840- Some areas  set up infant ‘schools’ for children in poverty and a few private kindergartens appear. Missionaries and charities operate some ‘free kindergartens’ to assimilate immigrant children.

1849- The law is amended or clarified so that women in Lower Canada cannot vote.

1849- The parliament buildings are burned and the capital is moved from Montreal to Toronto.

1850 – The average number of children per woman in Quebec is 6-7. (Belanger, er Marianopolis College)

1866 – Women are not allowed to vote in Quebec though eventually exceptions are made for single women. Married women are deemed ‘legally incapacitated’ with a belief that society depends on them being in the home and that men will adequately vote for the household.

1867- Quebec joins with Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to become the Dominion of Canada, under the British North America Act. The provinces get jurisdiction over education and health care. The Catholic church still operates most French language schools and hospitals in Quebec however.  Catholic bishops wield significant power and one even denies burial in a Catholic cemetery to a prominent politician. 

1883 – the first public funded by government kindergarten is set up in Canada in Toronto. The province of Ontario  funds such kindergartens by 1887.

1883 – the Women’s Suffrage Society tries to get women in Quebec the right to vote

1892 – single and land owning women can vote in municipal elections in Quebec but not in provincial elections


1901- The number of children born to married Quebec women on average is 3.4 for urban mothers and 7.8 for rural mothers.

1917 -The Catholic church is still powerful in Quebec, operating 32 different teaching orders and 586 boarding schools for girls. There is no government funded public education.

1918 – Canada -Women in Canada (except in Quebec) get the right to vote

1920- In Montreal some public schools look after children in ‘care programs’ while parents earn.

1935- 10,000 people sign a petition send to King George V in England to ask that women in Quebec be allowed to vote.

1940 – Active debate at the National Assembly focuses on if women should be allowed to vote at all levels of government.  On April 25th they are granted this right.

1941- The Catholic church is still very powerful in Quebec and attracts many followers.  In 1941 there are 26,000 nuns, up from 6,600 in 1901.  The church operates homes for unwed mothers, schools, hospitals and orphanages. 

1942 – For the first time a woman, Therese Casgrain runs for election in the National Assembly. She loses several times.

1942 – During the war the federal government set up a wartime agreement with the provinces to fund organized care of children,whose mothers were in essential war industries. The federal government funds 50% of the cost and Quebec takes part in the plan, as does Ontario. After the war the funding ends and Quebec closes its six childcare centres.

1944 – Canada passes its first universal social program – the Family Allowance Act, recognizing caregiving in the home. Family allowance was started as an alternative to raising the general level of wages and to ease the transition from war to peace in terms of a family’s purchasing power.   The Earl of Athlone, Governor General says it ensures a minimum of well-being for the children of the nation and give them equality of opportunity in the battle of life.   The allowance was given to families with incomes under $1200 per year and amounted to $5 per child per month under age 6 and $8 per month for older children regardless. In Quebec the cheque originally was sent to fathers until pressure from Therese Casgrain forced the premier to change this so mothers got the cheque.

1946 -Several political parties in Alberta and BC have proposed having a health insurance plan to assist families dealing with costs of illness . The idea by the United Farmers of Alberta, the Social Credit Party of Alberta, the province of British Columbia, and the federal Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie  King over the years is floated but not implemented. Doctors in some provinces object. However in 1946 the province of Saskatchewan introduces a plan that is almost universal for coverage of full cost of hospitalization for everyone residing in the province. Premier Tommy  Douglas aims at full range health care coverage ultimately but faces some objections. 80% however approve the proposal in a Gallup poll shortly after. Years later this plan becomes the model for national health care including in Quebec and in 2021 a model for national daycare for children.

1950- Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis leads a religion focused government for the Union Nationale party..  Many of the industries in Quebec are owned by US companies.  As Quebec gains economic power, there is growing unrest among the people to reject some of the conservative policies and there are riots in 1955.

1950 a post war ‘baby boom’ is experienced across the country.

1951 – For the first time a woman leads a political party in Quebec, the CCF.

1961- For the first time a woman is elected to the Quebec National Assembly. She is Marie-Claire Kirkland Casgrain.

1961 – About 30% of Canadian women aged 20-30 take part in the paid labor force.  They alone were called ‘working women’. (Canadian Labour Congress)

1960s – a Quiet Revolution is identified in Quebec as a mass movement of social upheaval. .The new Liberal government in Quebec wants Quebec taking ownership of its own industries, becoming maitres chez nous, masters in our own house.   The government nationalizes electrical power, sets up the Quebec Pension Plan, unionizes civil servants. It removes the power of the Catholic church to direct health care and education. The public is given more access to low cost post secondary education. These changes also result in changes in lifestyle. The birth rate per woman falls dramatically. Quebec goes from having the highest birth rate in Canada to having the lowest

1963 – In Quebec some rebels turn to violence.  A group called the Front de liberation du Quebec detonates bombs in Montreal. and launches a separatist movement for the province to detach from Canada.

1964 – In Quebec traditional gender roles are no longer strictly adhered to and the government passes a law to allowwomen to have jobs which were once solely reserved for men

1964- Quebec law for the first time says that married women are not legally incapacitated and that they have rights the same as single women

1966- the Canada Assistance Plan is set up to alleviate poverty. The federal government will pay 50% of the cost of welfare services including care of children but only for services for the poor. Childcare has to be not for profit and abide by strict regulations. Government funded childcare is only for the poor.

1966- Universal medicare is set up in Canada, providing free medical care to citizens, at doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals. The federal government commits to financing 50% of costs if the provinces pick up the other 50%.  The “Medical Care Act”  under Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson aims to eliminate the heavy burden of cost of illness and surgeries.  The plan serves in 2021 as a template for the design of a national daycare plan for children. Over time the share the federal government provides for health care however  is reduced and by 2021, the provinces pay two thirds of the medicare costs and the federal share is about 21%.  (Mintz 2021)

1966 – Maternity benefits are first given in Canada, in BC. Before that a new mother had to quit her paid job to be home with a baby or had to return quickly to it and leave the baby.  The funding only goes to mothers who have been at paid work however.

1967- The separatist movement in Quebec gains momentum. The president of France, Charles de Gaulle, during one visit to Quebec declares from a balcony ‘long live free Quebec!’ which leads to cheers from the crowd.

1967 – Quebec experiences what is later called a ‘quiet revolution’. One aspect of the shift is to delink government from the Catholic church. Education which used to be administered by the church is now administered by the government Ministry of Education.  The National Assembly of Quebec sets up university funding mostly through public taxes, making post secondary education lower cost than in most other provinces..

1968 -A French speaking university is set up in Montreal called the Univeriite du Quebec a Montreal. English speaking students protest. The result is establishment in Montreal of a  parallel university called Concordia.

1969- the Official Languages Act states that Quebec can use French as a special priority.

1970-  The separatist sentiment in Quebec reaches new heights with kidnapping of two officials. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invokes the War Measures Act and by 1971, 497 people have been arrested and 62 are charged.  The public when hearing of the murder of one of the captives, Pierre Laporte, ends much of its support for the separatist cause.

1970- Canada- The Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommends a change to the tax system to value unpaid work. It says that “Married women make a major contribution to the family through the provision of housekeeping and childcare services. These services have an economic value. The housewife who remains at home is just as much a producer of goods and services as is the paid workers…We consider the present tax system unfair”

1970 – Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommends emergency daycare be available but that a significant allowance be paid to mothers at home so they would not be forced to work outside the home .

1970 Because of the post war baby boom, by 1970 1.2 million Quebecers have reached age 14.  The young teens tend to reject Catholic teachings and some of the church’s values. 

1970- In Quebec marriage is common and in this year over 50,000 couples marry. The average age for marriage is 25.5 for men and 23.6 for women

1971 – The Canada Labour Code was amended so that mothers who had done at least 20 weeks of paid work could claim up to 15 weeks of maternity benefits. This was the first time maternity not just unemployment was covered under the unemployment insurance plan. However the benefit being tied to paid work was not accessible for all new mothers.

1971 – The Income Tax Act for Canada allows a parent to deduct from taxes some of their out of pocket expenses for care of children but only if paid to third parties.  The Unemployment Insurance Act allows new mothers to get some funding when giving birth if they were previously at paid work.  These provisions recognize value of children and costs of their care but only for mothers who already had salaries.

1971- Across Canada there were 14,4000 full time daycare spaces.

1975 – The Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms aims to eliminate all discrimination against women.

1976 – For the first time more than one woman is elected to the Quebec national assembly

1976 – Traditional Catholic values continue to be rejected in Quebec and  births outside marriage now are 10% of all births, up from 3.7% in 1961.

1976 – The province elects for the first time a government declared to be separatist. Its Parti Quebecois is led by Premier Rene Levesque who wins with 41.37% of the vote . His nearest rival is the Liberal party with 33.78% of the vote. Premier Levesque promises not to separate unless a public referendum endorses the move.

1979-  Quebec unions representing government, education and health workers, as a Common Front, negotiate 20 weeks of paid maternity benefits, 10 weeks for adoption of a child and five days of paternity benefits, all tied to paid work of the parent.  The tradition is established for labor unions to lobby for rights of mothers, but only for mothers at paid work.

1979- Rather than funding parents directly to help them pay costs of daycare, the Quebec government now funds daycare directly to offset their operating costs and increase staff salaries.

1980 – the Parti Quebecois government holds a public referendum to see if Quebecers want the province to leave Canada. The vote is only 40.44% yes.

1981 – The Quebec public re-elects Premier Rene Levesque with 49.26% of the vote for his Parti Quebecois.. The nearest rival Liberal party gets 46.07% of the vote in a close election.

1981 – the Canadian Union of Postal Workers goes on a 42 day strike to win the rights to 17 weeks of paid maternity leave. After this the idea  of expanded maternity benefits spreads across the country, tied however to paid work of the mother.

1982 – The Canada Act ends nearly all ties between Canada and its former rulers in Britain and sets up a formula to be amended.  Premier Levesque is pressured to sign for Quebec and refuses. The Supreme Court of Canada rules that it is not necessary for every province to sign in order to amend the constitution.

1982 – More unions negotiate paid maternity benefits for their members, including federal clerks, members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada,  Bell telephone workers and members of the Communications Workers of Canada.  The trend for unions to have a strong presence in labor policy becomes established including the ability to threaten to strike if demands are not met.

1984 – With increases in population, advances in medical research and technology and higher salaries, costs of health care have increased. The Canadian government commitment to still provide free care to Canadians with a 50-50 cost sharing arrangement with the provinces, becomes strained. Some provinces have now permitted charging fees to patients for some services. The federal government passes the Canada Health Act however to prohibit charging user fees or any additional billing by physicians. In many provinces healthcare now becomes the most costly budget item of all departments..

1985- In the Quebec election the new premier is Robert Bourassa ,head of the Liberal party with 55.99% of the vote. The nearest rival is the Parti Quebecois with 38.69% of the vote.

1985 -In Ontario many four year olds now attend half day kindergarten and across Canada many five year olds attend half day kindergarten. The trend is encouraged by some activists for childcare with some even suggesting eventually that kindergarten be made available for two year olds, though this is not set in place.

1989 – The Canada Assistance Program helps with daycare costs of families who are in need, providing half the money while the provinces and municipalities pay the other half.

1989 -In the provincial election the Liberal  party stays in power with 49.95% of the vote under Premier Robert Bourassa. The nearest rival is the Parti Quebecois with 40.16% of the vote.

1989- When governments are asked to value mothers and child bearing they often do so but not with benefits for all babies. The tendency is to fund maternity only if the mother was at paid work recently. The qualifications for getting maternity benefits and the length of time a  woman is funded to be home with a baby change but always only for paid work mothers.  The benefits in 1989 permit 15 weeks of maternity benefits and 35 weeks of a new ‘parental benefit’ used by either parent, totalling 50 weeks at 55% of the woman’s insured earnings previously to a maximum of $413 a week. New mothers who did not have paid work last year get $0 a week. The eligibility to get the benefits has been reduced from 700 paid hours to 600 paid hours. 

1990- Canada limits the Canada Assistance Plan, not willing to increase its annual share over 5% a year to Ontario, Alberta or BC.  Quebec is not affected

1990- Attempts are made to reconcile English Canada with the French but the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord fail to do so.  Concessions are offered to Quebec to get it to sign the Canada Act it has refused to sign  since 1982 but Quebec still refuses. The premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa declares that  Quebec forever is a’ distinct society, free and capable of assuming its own destiny” (this definition of its status as special within Canada is later used to justify giving it special permission to have its own maternity benefits plan, not the federal one, and its own daycare funding agreement  not the federal one in 2021)

1991 – Across Canada there were 394,300 full time daycare spaces.

1991- the separatist movement in Quebec continues and  a senior advisor to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, leaves the Progressive Conservative party and  forms a new national party to represent Quebec separatist views in the federal government. This leader is Lucien Bouchard. He becomes leader of the Opposition federally so gains huge recognition to the separatist movement.

1992 – A petition campaign is launched with over 52,00 names calling on Quebec to recognize unpaid work.  The call is made for a childcare income tax credit to parents at home and advises that at-home caregivers be permitted to contribute to the Quebec Pension Plan

1992 – A Quebec group, AFEAS hosts a forum  ‘Making Invisible Work Visible’ and presents a petition to the Quebec government asking for an income tax credit for all children, whether at home or in daycare. They also ask that at-home caregivers be allowed to contribute to the Quebec Pension Plan.

1993 – The average salary of a daycare worker in Canada is $18,000.  A government report also finds that 3 of 10 workers in daycares have no formal qualifications while 7 of 10 have a diploma, certificate or degree. (The average salary for a Canadian  full time worker is $48,800 across all professions. Average income for a mother at home doing the same role is zero unless one counts spousal deduction and family allowance which at the time were together under $8,000)

1994 – in the provincial election the Parti Quebecois regains power under Premier Jacques Parizeau with 44.75% of the vote. The Liberals lost with 44.40% of the vote.

1994 – Daycare activists collect statistics based not on desire for daycare but on existence of daycare spaces there are in case parents want them. Across Canada it is calculated that there are enough spaces to serve 44% of children aged 3-6 whose parents have paid work or atten school and that there are enough spaces for 15% of children aged under 18 months from such households.

1994- The political party Action Democratique du Quebec ADQ forms, made up of dissident Liberal party members. Leader Mario Dumont outlines plans to empower families, lower taxes, have school vouchers, eliminate school boards. The party rises to some prominence.

1995 – Across Canada there were 360,000 full time daycare spaces, a decline of 34,500 in 4 years. Activists describe this as a loss, though parental surveys vary in desire to use daycare.

1995 –  A US study of the cost, quality and outcomes of daycare finds that group size, staff wages, staff turnover and curriculum all matter but that  staff child ratio is the most important feature to determine good quality. In centres that have commitment to being low cost , often staff child ratios are high to keep expenses down for the operators.

1995 – Separatists leaders hold a second public referendum to ask Quebecers if they want to leave Canada but be still associated with Canada to get some benefits, The vote is close with 49.42% saying yes but 50.58% saying no.,

1995 – The European Union Child Care Network sets standards for ideal ratios of adult to children in a daycare setting as one adult to fifteen children aged 3-6 years. These numbers are rarely met  in many care arrangements in Canada particularly for 4-5 year olds.

1996 – The Canada Assistance Plan of federal funds for social programs is abolished  Instead a Canadian Health and Social Transfer is set up to provide in one block federal funds to the provinces to administer programs for health, education and welfare programs including daycare.


1996 – Quebec has a system of tax credits for parents for care of children.

1996 – the number of people per Quebec household is 2.5. This indicates a huge drop in birth rate and a higher incidence of people living alone than in previous years.

1997- The Canadian Council on Social Development reports that childcare costs to parents are going up but that government spending on it is going down. By childcare such surveys usually mean not funding for children but funding for 3rd party daycare.

1997- Quebec under Premier Lucien Bouchard of the Parti Quebecois starts subsidized daycare  programs at a  cost to parents of $5 a day regardless of parental income. One goal is to allow more women to join the paid workforce and pay taxes.. Another goal is to improve child development, social skills and enhance school readiness to lead to better socio-economic outcomes as adults.(In later studies it is found that the rich use the daycares much more than do the poor)

1997- the paid employment rate for mothers of Quebec children aged 5 and younger is 64%  (Fortin)

1997- Employment insurance is changed across Canada, affecting mothers who were at paid work.  The number of women of child-rearing age who are in the paid labor force is 69.7% in Quebec (66.5% in the Atlantic provinces and 72% elsewhere in the country)

1997- daycare workers are often unionized in public centres and in\ some home -based daycare. Unions have a strong position to deny service and go on strike for better wages (Geloso)

1998- In the Quebec provincial election the Parti Quebecois retains power though  Premier Lucien Bouchard’s party gets 42.87% of the vote while the Liberals got 43.55% of the vote. The seat division makes it so the PQ has 77 seats and the Liberals only 47 so the PQ forms government.  A new party, the Action Democratique du Quebec is starting to make gains and takes 11.81% of the vote.

1998 – The Quebec daycare system was for four year olds, while five year olds were often sent to full day kindergarten. The  childcare program expands to  5-12 year olds before and after school care in 1998

1998- 29 women are elected as representatives in the Quebec national assembly making them 23.2% of all members elected.

1998- The jargon about childcare changes from calling it service providing care of children to a portrayal of it as education, and then to a portrayal of all those outside the daycare system as not having access to education.  Mothers in Quebec are encouraged to earn outside the home and use daycare through not only financial but social pressure that such a lifestyle is best for the mother to use her skills and best for the child’s learning. Those who provide care and education of their young at home object and some groups are formed such as Child Care Equity in Montreal but their voices are not often consulted by government.  68.4% of mothers ages 25-54 with children under age 6 in Quebec now have paid work.

1998- To encourage people to use the government run centres, there is  a moratorium placed on creating for-profit childcare centres.

1998- Canada has removed the family allowance which it allotted to all mothers for over 40 years. It also removes from the tax form the child dependent deduction so that for a time parents have no entry on the tax form that acknowledges any of their costs at home for childrearing. However government sets up a National Child Benefit and a National Child Benefit Supplement for the poor. Their amount however is very small compared to the significant money government spends per child in daycare .

1999 – The federal government joins with the provinces to sign a Social Union Framework Agreement. The agreement states that all Canadians should have ‘access’ to ‘essential social programs and services’ of comparable quality wherever they live. The federal government agrees to not on its own introduce any new social programs in areas of provincial jurisdiction (such as daycare) without agreement of the majority of provinces. This condition is why in 2021 the Liberal party to plan a universal daycare program could not set one in place without getting provinces to agree to its conditions

1999 The federal government signs agreements with Quebec and some of the provinces for a National Children’s Agenda. Liberal leader Jean Chretien endorses a daycare system but Reform party leader Preston Manning responds to the throne speech saying government should support families and children at home not just daycare.


2000- The Quebec daycare system was for four year olds, while five year olds were often sent to full day kindergarten. The  childcare program expanded to  5-12 year olds before and after school care in 1998 and to those aged 0-4 in 2000

2001 – Quebec mothers express frustration that maternity benefits from the federal government are low, and  Quebec government leaders, examining the low birth rate in the province and the need for more citizens, pass unanimously a Parental Insurance Act to increase benefits in their province. This move is resisted by some legal scholars who note that maternity benefits are a federal not provincial area of jurisdiction. Court battles ensue.

2001- Canada – Basic personal exemption continues to be higher than the spousal deduction federally, so that a spouse is assumed to create less cost (or have less value) than an earner, but the provinces of Alberta, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Quebec have made the two amounts equal. This is seen by some observers as recognizing the caregiver spouse as a full person.

2002 – Long term effects of daycare in the US are studied. Cognitive gains that seem to develop in centre-based daycares tend to fade over time and are gone nearly entirely by grade 3  in comparison to children raised outside daycare. (NICHD Early Childhood Care Research Network)

2003  -The moratorium limiting creation of for profit childcare centres in Quebec is lifted when it is realized that the province could not create enough spaces at the low cost. The number of for profit centres increases quickly . as the Liberal government encourages creation of commercial and private sector childcare spaces.

2003 – In the provincial election Jean Charest becomes premier heading the Liberal party with 45.99% of the vote. The nearest rival is the Parti Quebecois with 33.24% of the vote. They had promised a 4 day work week option so people could spend more time with the family.  The Action Democratique du  Quebec party wins 18.18% of the vote.

2003 – The Quebec National Assembly legislates that the people of
Quebec form a nation. (This leads them to adopt language laws, maternity laws and childcare laws that are different from Canadian laws)

2004 – The  Quebec daycare system is so costly to operate that fees per day of care paid by parents increase from $5 to $7.

2004 – A confusion exists in public perception between for profit and not for profit childcare. The not for profit style is heavily  subsidized by government. However the term for profit includes both large chain operations some of which are international and also small mom and pop neighborhood operations that often do not make much profit. 

2004- Quebec spends $1.4 billion a year to subsidize 190,000 daycare spaces. Per child this subsidy is $15,000 a year.  The system has chronic staffing problems. It admits that the $7 a day it charges parents is subsidized per child by taxpayers at $38 per child per day.

2004 -The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth finds that only 12% of Canadian children under age 12 are in 3rd party daycare and even in Quebec with low cost daycare, only 21% of children are using the service. Overall in Canada of children under age 5 years, 51% are in parental care, 17% are in care by relatives, 16% ar in 3rd party care and 10% are in a regulated daycare. 

2005- The Institute for Research on Public Policy finds that only one quarter of childcare settings in Quebec qualify for a rating of good to excellent. Most are rated as minimal quality and 12% as failing to provide an educational environment or ensure health and safety. The study finds that children from lower income families are more likely to be at the low quality centres.

2005 – Nearly 80% of the cost of operating a childcare center goes to salaries and rent not to children’s care or supplies according to a Toronto Star report (Japel)

2005 The government of Quebec reaches an agreement with the government of Canada to let Quebec administer its own maternity benefits program, one more generous than the federal plan. The Supreme Court has also ruled during the court battles that “children are one of society’s most important assets and the contribution made by parents cannot be overstated”  Maternity benefits are recognized as legitimate ways to value parenting but only because they require an absence from paid work previously done. In that way they are still tied to paid employment.

2005 Quebec spends $1.3 billion per year on its childcare program.

2005 Prime Minister Paul Martin signs a deal with al 10 provinces to create a five year program for national daycare at a cost of $1 billion a year. The promise sparks concern from several parent groups that also want funding for care at home, and leads to 17 rallies across the country against the plan. The Liberal government falls. The new Conservative government sets up instead a benefit to all parents, called the Universal Child Care Benefit, a $100 monthly direct payment to parents to spend on daycare or other care as they wish. Their use of the expression ‘childcare’ to include care of a child at home does not become the norm however.

2005 – Given the high cost of operating low cost daycare, the Quebec government encourages setting up for profit centres and sets a goal of 200,000 children care spaces. A Toronto Star report claims that such centres have lower quality care and that the focus will have negative consequences for quality of care.

2005  -A national movement to have funds for care of children go to parents not daycare holds a national Fund the Child Press Conference on Parliament Hill . Quebecer Yvonne Coupal of Child Care Equity, Equite Soins de Garde speaks of the need to fund all care of children, citing as example the example of health care of the elderly, who, it is now realized by the Quebec minister of health, benefit from the ‘natural caregivers’ of family members within the health care network. The move away from institutionalized care of the elderly, she feels has a parallel with care of the young.

2006- Richer households are the biggest users of the Quebec subsidized daycare plan, with 58% of children coming from homes with incomes over $60,000 (Kozhaya,) 

2006 – The US National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends adult child ratios of one adult for 8 four year olds, and one adult for 9 five year olds in daycare. For kindergarten there commendations are one adult for 10-12 children. Research finds that regardless of number of adults supervising,, small children are distracted and cannot handle the noise level if groupings are large. The association recommends that maximum number in daycare  groupings should be 16 four year olds or 18 five year olds.  It recommends that maximum numbers of children in a group for kindergarten should be 20-24 children. These standards are often not met in daycares in Quebec.

2006 – To  placate separatist sentiments in Quebec, the government of Canada passes  a motion to recognize Quebec as a “nation within a united Canada”.

2006 – Canada –  Fleishman-Hillard Canada releases results of a  Nov 2005 pre-election Canadian survey of childcare policy. Over 80% prefer parental care in the home as the ideal care arrangement for  young children  70% of Quebec parents of young children and 78% of Ontario parents of young children prefer to have a parent at home,  In Quebec 33% of parents prefer as their second choice relative based carem 35% like a family daycare (dayhome) arrangement. the results hold true regardless of household income level, gender, age of parents

2006 – The Fleishman Hillard polls asks respondents to choose between a range of options of how government should invest $5 billion per year for care of children, 62% prefer giving parents a tax deduction, 57% prefer cash payments to parents, 45% prefer an overall tax reduction, 38% preferr subsidies to childcare centres and only 35% prefer building a national daycare childcare system -Asked whether a European plan for paid parental time at home with a baby for 3 years was advisable in Canada, 69% said it was a good or very good idea,  27% said it was a bad or very bad -the highest support for the idea was in Quebec at 79% .

2006- In Quebec the federal maternity benefits plan excludes one third of all new mothers. The Quebec government decides to write its own maternity benefits plan instead. Under this plan women with paid work the previous year can get up to 75% of salary,. Under the federal plan they would have received at most $417 per week but under the Quebec plan they could get up to $649 a week. The Quebec plan also has no two week waiting period, unlike the federal plan and the benefits  extend to self-employed mothers but still not to mothers already at home. The benefits are based not on minimum number of hours of paid work the previous year but on minimum income earned, and that amount is $2000.

The Quebec plan seeks to encourage Quebecers to have children

2007 – the National Institute for Early Childhood Education in the US recommends class sizes in childcare and preschool to be one adult to ten children at most and group sizes of children to be 20 at most. These standards are not often met in Quebec.

2007- In the provincial election Premier Jean Charest retains his leadership with Liberals getting 33.08% of the vote. The new party Action Democratique du Quebec is the closest rival now with 30.84% of the vote. The Parti Quebecois gets only 28.35% of the vote.

2007-  Quebec premier Jean Charest affirms his province’s fundamental value of equality between men and women (though valuing the care role at home is not part of the discussion)

2008- Unionization of daycare workers is expanded to include those who take care of someone else’s children in a home setting (Lessard)

2008- In the provincial election the Liberal party wins under Premier Jean Charest. The Parti Quebecois gets 35.17% of the vote and the Action Demoratique 16.37%, the Greens 2.17% and the Quebec solidaire party 3.78%.

2008- Upper income families not only get the low cost daycare but use it at much higher rates than do lower income families (Kohen, 2008)

2008- To cover the demands of unionized daycare workers for salaries and benefits, costs to operate the daycare have gone up. Lessard estimates the extending unionization to workers cost over $ 1 billion a year.

2008- The Childcare Resource and Research Unit reports that in Quebec the ratio of adults to children in childcare for 4 year olds is one adult to ten kids and for 5 year olds is one adult to 20 kids. In all other provinces the ratio is lower, usually one adult to 7-9 children for 4 year olds and one adult to 10-12-15 for five year olds. This means that Quebec to maintain its programs has very high ratios of children per adult.

2008- The Childcare Resource and Research Unit reports that in Quebec kindergartens the class size is one adult to 18 children for 4 year olds and one adult to 20 children for 5 year olds. In the other provinces the ratios are about the same or even slightly higher, with one adult for 12 children in Prince Edward Island but one per 22 in BC or New Brunswick and one adult for 25 in Nova Scotia.

2008- To control the rising costs of operating the daycare system, the province rations service. Long wait lists develop for the subsidized places (Baker, Gruber)

2008- Boys in daycare are found to have an increase in aggressive and hyperactivity ( Baker, Gruber) Other studies find negative effects on motor and social development, higher rates of anxiety among children in daycare, (Geloso)

2008 – Economists Baker and Milligan estimate that  only 40% of the cost of operating daycares is made up for by the income tax revenue generated when mothers earn and pay tax.

2008 – The National Assembly of Quebec adopts a motion to promote the ‘values of the Quebecois nation”

2009- Daycare advocates claim that daycare spending is a long-term investment in human capital, enhancing school readiness.. Later studies however find that apparent cognitive gains compared to nondaycare users are not long term advantages and disappear by the early years of school.

2010 – The Council for Early Child Development in Quebec finds that on average children who regularly attend daycare spend on average 8 hours a day at the daycare (the normal work day of adult Canadians is often less than 8 hours so children are at their ‘work’ longer than are parents)

2011- There is a significant increase in wages for unionized childcare workers who operate in a family setting.

2011- Women make up 27.2% of all elected members of the Quebec national assembly

2011- a new political party forms in Quebec, the Coalition Avenir Quebec CAQ, headed by Charles Simon and by Francois Legault who previously was with the Parti Quebecois separatist party.

2011 – Quebec spending on daycare has gone up 562% since 1997. Geloso reports that the number of low cost subsidized spaces  however is only a small part of that and that the number of such spaces provided with this money has only increased 156% over the same time period.

2011- Though the cost of operating the Quebec daycare plan is high economist Fortin says the province is saving money by no longer giving benefits in other areas.  He observes that since the daycare plan was established, government did not have to pay out as many refundable tax credits to low income parents  He says that government also got more income due to 70,000 more mothers at paid work generating higher tax revenue personally and that it got increased revenue from corporations, in payroll taxes, consumption taxes GST, PTs, gasoline taxes and local taxes. He also says that the province saved money by not having to pay out so much in social assistance since mothers now were at paid work, and it did not have to pay out as much in child benefits . Other economists question the claim that the operating costs of daycare were covered well by savings elsewhere.

2011-Since the increase in child benefit for all children not just those in daycare, there has been a mini baby boom in some provinces.  Between 2006 and 2011 the number of children aged 0-4 increased 11% overall. It was up 17.5% in Quebec, 20% in Saskatchewan and 21% in Alberta.

2011- Statistics Canada finds that across the country, 29% of fathers of newborns take parental leave while 76% of dads take such leave in Quebec which funds a paternity benefit. The benefit is however tied to paid work.

2012 – Quebec elects its first female premier, Pauline Maurois, who heads the Parti Quebecois separatist party in a minority government.  She campaigned to give low cost childcare in the province. In 2014 her party loses the election.

2012 – Quebec tax rates are high in order to cover its commitment to daycare and other services.  It charges the GST sales tax of 5% and a provincial sales tax of 9.9% for  total purchase tax on items of 14.975%, which is higher than the sales tax charged in BC, Alberta,, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Ontario..

2012 – Effects of daycare are studied and though cognitive skills are often the focus of research and positive results are inconsistent,  non cognitive traits such as self-control, patience, perseverance and industriousness also have major impact on long term well-being  and do not seem as positively impacted (Heckman and Kautz)

2012 – The political scene changes in Quebec when the Coalition Avenir Quebec now merges also with the Action democratique du Quebec to create a common front against the Liberals and Parti Quebecois.

2012 – When asked about happiness and well-being, parents whose children are in daycare in Quebec differed. Middle class families were less happy but low income families reported positive well-being (Brodeur and Connolly)

2012 – Revenu Quebec uses a progressive income tax, a sales tax of 9.975%, corporate tax, carbon tax, and capital gains taxes to help fund its programs including daycare. It also receives equalization payments from other wealthier provinces and gets direct payments from the federal government.

2013 – 70-80% of the entire cost of operating a daycare goes to salaries (Clifford).

2013 – The Institute for Marriage and Family Canada  surveys Canadians and finds that 75% think it is best for a child under age 6 to be home with a parent and that if that is not possible the second choice is with a relative. Care in institutional daycare is less preferred than the other two. As for funding style, 65% of Quebecers are in favor of direct payments to parents not preferential funding to daycares.

2013 -Full day kindergarten is set up for four year olds in Quebec. This move from daycare to the school system creates some problems for daycare operators however who lose clients but is a boon to parents who then often can access lower cost care that is provided by trained educators. A new category emerges of ‘educational childcare’ which may include daycares which claim to have an educational component.

2013- The Canadian General Social Survey of 2011 shows that 3rd party care of children is not the choice of all parents and often not the choice of a majority of parents. Overall only 46% of parents of children aged up to 14 years had used any form of 3rd party care.  26% of those with a child under age one,  60% of those with a child aged 2-4 years, 54% of those with a child under age 4, 39% of those with a child aged 5-14 years, 19% of those with a child aged 11-14 years were using third party care.  The rates varied across the provinces from 34% of Manitoba parents using 3rd party care, 40% of Alberta parents, and 58% of Quebec parents having ever used 3rd party care in the survey year..

2014-Quebec to set up a government funded universal daycare plan, removed funds from its universal per child plan for all children. The cost of the daycare plan has been increasing. Originally parents paid $5 a day but fees were raised to $7.50 a day and in 2014 Premier Couillard announces they will go higher on a sliding scale based on parental income. Those with higher incomes will pay $835, $1456, $2130 or $2678 more per year.

2014 Quebecers elect a majority non-separatist government, the Liberal party of Quebec, replacing the separatist Parti Quebecois.

2014- Most  provinces have seen an increase in the average age of citizens. In Quebec the balance between those aged 15-64 and those over 65 is now 4 per senior, while in 1971 it was 9 per senior. At this rate it is estimated that by 2050 it will be 2 per senior. Concerns are expressed at ability to fund  health care and pensions if this tilted balance continued and birth rates are not increased.

2014- Quebec faces a dilemma as couples have fewer children, putting at risk the tax base in a generation. To address this the province welcomes more immigrants. The number of non-permanent residents is 100,000.  However the province is also anxious to ensure its priority French language is maintained.

2014 – In response to concerns about the quality of care at Quebec daycares, studies are done. The Grandir  en qualite surveys of 2003 and 2014 look at factors rated from poor, acceptabl , good or excellent and finds that most rank ‘acceptable’ and the centres de la petite enfance subsidized centres rank slightly higher as ‘good’. Centres were ranked based on layout of the premises, equipment, number of play activities, promotion of play, and on ‘communication’ with children and with parents. Centres often provided food and it was noted that children were given a choice not of what to eat but of how much and in what order to eat it.

2014 – Quebec spends more on daycare than do the other provinces, due to is preferential care style policy. Some studies consider this as a benefit and claim that other provinces are lagging behind. The IRPP reports that Quebec spends nearly five times as much as do other Canadian governments on daycare and that it also spends more than all other provinces combined on this one care style.

2014 – The IRPP reports that in Quebec average daycare fees are now $152 a month compared to a rate in Ontario of $1210 a month or in BC at $1071 a month.   The appeal to parents is made that the Quebec system costs less, though cost to taxpayers is rarely pointed out.

2014 – As the Quebec government now spends a lot of money on daycare and children spend long hours there daily, parents express concern about the care received. Government develops policies that standardize what children will be fed. The Gazeelle et potiron flegislation by the ministry of the family sets out 12 goals to encourage good eating habits and physical activity for those under aged 5 years.

2014 The Quebec ministry of the family reports that 56.9% of all children under age 5 are in a daycare service and 43.1% are not, even though the province heavily promotes the daycare lifestyle.

2014 – In the Quebec provincial election the Liberals retain power under Premier Couillard with 41.52% of the vote. The Parti Quebecois falls to 25.38%, and the New Democrats appear with 23.05% of the vote. The Quebec solidaire party gess 7.63% of the vote and the Greens 0.55%.

2014  – The high cost of operating the daycare system is one of many expenses faced by the province. A Fraser Institute report finds that relative to its size Quebec is ‘the most indebted province in Canada, by a wide margin”

2015 – Haeck and Lefebre estimate that the cost of operating the Quebec daycare program exceeds tax revenue generated by having mothers paying tax by about $1.2 billion annually

2015- In Quebec as traditional Catholic church values continue to be rejected, the number of births outside marriage is now 62.9% of all births.

2015 – In the federal election campaign some politicians promise ways to make raising children more affordable.  The Conservatives introduce income splitting for families with children under age 18, to recognize that the income has to spread over several people.  Families with earnings totalling $50,000 can declare it in lower tax brackets as if  earned by two adults at $25,000 each, reducing taxes at a cap of $2000 reduction in tax.  Some feminist writers however oppose income splitting saying it encourages women to depend on men so they prefer women to have to pay full tax and not share. The Conservatives get 31.89% of the vote.

2015 – Researchers from the University of Quebec at Montreal study 4 year old kindergarten classes, half and full day styles and rank quality there as low. The centres are evaluated for space, furnishings, personal care routines, language use, activities and interactions.

2015 In the federal election the Liberal party while promising to increase funding for those who use daycare, says it will also increasethe universal child benefit that goes to all parents. This benefit will be tax free but will be reduced based on household income .The benefit will allot $4 billion for all parents. However there will still be the $18 billion more given for daycare users. The universal child benefit is increased by $60 a month ($2 a day) for children under age 6. The Liberals get 39.47% of the vote, and form a minority government.

2015 -In the federal election the Green Party  promotes universal daycare saying that to pay for it, the party would cancel the benefits that go to those who dn not use daycare. The Greens promise to nudge workplaces to set up daycare spaces by pledging $1500 per child space per year to workplaces that do so. The Greens, noticing that some new mothers get no maternity benefits if they were not in paid work the previous year, promise to change parental leave to two years for those excluded from the Employment Insurance plan.  The Greens get 3.45% of the vote.

2015 Economist Fortin estimates that for every dollar spent on childcare in Quebec there is a return of $1.50 to $3 for the economy. To make this tally it is sometimes claimed that the great benefit comes from creating jobs for daycare workers and generating tax revenue from mothers and daycare workers. The benefit estimate usually does not tally new costs to government due to loss of unpaid care at home and the need to provide more support for mental health concerns,, longer stays in hospital and any counselling costs of those apart from family members against their preference.

2015 – UQAM researcher Lebihan finds that the childcare program  has negative side effects on children aged 0- 4 years but by ages 5-9  most negative effects disappear.

2015 – Since all families have equal access to low cost daycare, the poor pay the same low rates they always did. However since now  the rich can pay the low rates too, they are the ones who have the most financial gain from the low cost system.  (Haeck, Lefebvre )

2015 – In the federal election campaign the NDP says it will create a national childcare plan on the Quebec model. Tom Mulcair would spend $5 billion a year and charge parents at most $15 a day. He uses as model Quebec where he says parents pay up to $20 a day for care. The NDP gets 19.71% of the vote.

2015- The total cost Quebec spends on daycare is $2.6 billion a year. Fortin says it is 0.6% of the province’s gross domestic product but says that is the average spent in OED countries on early childhood education. These statistics however may not reflect actual money spent on children by parents, or money spent on child benefits not daycare.  The use of ‘early childhood education’ and ‘childcare ‘categories to exclude costs in the home is problematic to many observers. Seeing the money spent on daycare as an area of competition between nations masks the fact that money spent on children themselves is a completely other category

2015 -The Working Mother Institute finds that even among women in paid work 70% say they would prefer part time over full time jobs.

2016 – The Institute for Research on Public Policy found that only 27% of government regulated daycare centres in Quebec got a ‘good’ rating while 61% were rated  of minimum quality and 12% were rated as poor.

2016 – Canada -The Macdonald Royal Commission suggested a guaranteed minimal basic income  plan  30 years earlier and Finland, Switzerland, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and the federal government are now  considering it .The Macdonald Commission  looks at paying $312 per adult per month or $9000 per family of four per year.

2016- The costs of the Quebec daycare program continue to increase. Since 1997 the amount spent by government has gone up 101.6% , so it more than doubled- Minister de la Famille)

2016 – A key appeal of the daycare program is touted as  the low cost to parents. Because of heavy government subsidy, a daycare spot in Montreal costs $10 a day but in Ottawa is $47, in Vancouver $9 and in Toronto $54 a day (Geloso)

2016- Statistics Canada reports that daycare worker wages have gone up 2.3% per year, consistent with increases in other sectors, since 2001.

2016 – The province spends $9,823 per child to operate a daycare space (Ministere de la Famille, Quebec)

2016 – The number of people per Quebec household is 2.25, in a steady trend downward as people choose not to marry and to have fewer children.

2016 – Toddler Observatory – Observatoire des tout-petits is formed in Quebec through the Lucie and Andre Chagnon Foundation, to advocate for daycare as early education and to promote it as the way to ensure early learning..

2016- The not for profit daycare system  is so costly to operate that for profit centres are encouraged across Canada and some get subsidies. They are now 30% of all regulated daycare spaces.

2016 – When it is noticed that children in poor districts in Quebec often use daycare less, some observers may feel that this is because they are often immigrants and prefer family based care and extended family care, or care by family in the language and traditions they know. However daycare activists view such underuse as a lack of access to daycare and promote government intervening more with low cost or free services in those areas. The Quebec government passes preventive health policy legislation aimed at increasing to 80% the percent of children who start kindergarten for 5 year olds, particularly for those in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

2016- Despite the daycare plan that was to nudge mothers into paid work, women of child-bearing age were not the ones who did enter paid labor in heavy numbers according to one study. The ones who did were those aged 55 and over. (Geloso)

2016 – The number of mothers of Quebec children aged 5 and under in paid work is 80% (Fortin)

2017- Quebec spends over $9,000 per child per year to provide daycare. (were this money available to all parents, many would be able to afford care styles of parent, grandparent, sitter or nanny not just daycare)

2017- Economist Fortin says that here is no waiting time for access to licensed childcare in Quebec but there are wait lists for high quality care at the not for profit centres. His recommendation is to have higher standards at all centres and to expand the not for profit model.

2017 – When criticism is made that the rich are benefiting unduly from low cost daycare when they could afford to pay more, Fortin says that even middle and high income families have ‘vulnerable’ children who need their vulnerability corrected early

2017- Toddler Observatory in Quebec finds that 62.6% of Quebec children aged 0-4 years are in daycare . The Observatory suggests that 37.4% not there must lack access to early education. The rhetoric of promoting daycare as a universal need not just a benefit, is slowly promoted across the province and taken up as an approach by many daycare advocates.  The fact that care by a parent, grandparent, sitter or nanny is considered not educational however is considered insulting by many observers.

2017 – Paid labor force participation of women aged 25-44 across Canada is 76.6% though not all of these women are mothers.

2017- Quebec’s program is called ‘universal’ but it does not mean all use it. Studies find lengthy wait times for some centres. Children from higher income families are more likely to get a place in the daycare. Universal means that all families can get government subsidies regardless of income when they find a subsidized space but not that there is a subsidized space for every child. (Geloso, 2017)

2017 – Quebec abandons the idea of flat rates for daycare and requires that higher income families pay higher rates, though all spots are heavily subsidized

2017- Quebec now offers four types of licensed childcare:

-early childhood centres (centres de la petite enfance ) CPE, not for profit

-family based caregiver (in a family setting but not the child’s family as caregiver)

-for profit nursery (garderie) at full fee to parents-

-for profit nursery (garderie) at reduced fee to parents

2017 Quebec parents get the following income flow to help with costs of children: salaries, federal income tax deductions, provincial refundable tax credit, Canada Child Benefit, GST credit Those who use daycare in addition however get the daycare subsidy benefit equivalent to thousands of dollars a year.

2017 – When the government of Quebec reports on  childcare it often now frames it as ‘early educational daycare centres’ and then divides them into categories of early childhood centres (CPEs, which are highly subsidized), subsidized centres, non-subsidized daycares, and then care by a third party in a home setting which is called’ home daycare’ but is not care by the parent at home. This terminology may be a source of confusion to some observers when care at home by a family member is not on the list  of early education styles, and the category ‘home care’ seems to mean it but does not.  Statistics sometimes are portrayed as if  child not in any of the daycare arrangements is behind, not able to ‘access’ early education.  Studies are then done of where there are these ‘gaps’ or lacks of daycare use, as if that is not a parental preference but a failure of government to provide enough daycare.

2017   Economist Pierre Fortin says that the daycare plan has succeeded because so many women have now joined the (paid) workforce. 86% of women aged 26-44 are now in the paid workforce in Quebec, the highest rate in the world.  Across all of Canada 80% of women in that age group have paid work.

2017- In response to concerns about the qualify of care at daycare, Quebec passes an act to improve educational quality  there. It requires centres to take part in evaluation processes and in quality improvement. By this act the government can on its own determine ‘any element or service’ to be included in the educational program.

2018- 80.6% of mothers aged 25-54 in Quebec, with children under age 6 years have paid work.  This statistic is interpreted by daycare advocates as proof of need of daycare even though the means of paid work, the hours, the work from  home option, the part time paid work evenings or weekends, or polls of preferences suggest that not all parents with paid work want or need daycare. Many set up other care arrangements they prefer such as parental taking turns, grandparent, sitter, neighbor, nanny.  The use of statistics to call any mother with income a potential daycare client or to call  a ‘working mother’ someone not a mother at home, becomes a language game. . Daycare unions and advocacy groups ramp up their lobby to make daycare look essential for every single child.

2018 – In the Quebec provincial election the new party Coalition Avenir Quebec seizes power with 37% of the vote. The Liberals get 25% of the vote and the Parti  Quebecois slides to 17%. The Quebec solidaire party gets 16% , the Green party 1.68%, the Conservative party of Quebec, 1.46% and the New Democrats 0.57%. Quebec again has a minority government.  When it makes commitments on childcare therefore it does not necessarily speak for a majority.

2018- Tallies of costs care of children  and ways governments help differ  in terminology. Some studies look at the family allowance, benefits and deductions provided across the board to all parents as well as the targeted funding to encourage use of daycare. Some studies however only look at the targeted funding for daycare, label it as  ‘investment in childcare’ and then compare rates of this preferential funding around the world.  The IRPP finds that by that tally public spending on ‘childcare services  in Canada is 0.2%, the lowest of all OECD countries. The UK spends 1.4% and Australia 0.8%. and the US 0.6%. The province of Quebec however does spend more money on daycare preferentially and its tally is closer to the OECD  recommended level.

2018 – Statistics Canada finds that Quebec mothers with children under age 3 are employed at a  rate 20% more than in 1997. The incentive to use daycare and the lack of funding to not is claimed as effective/

2018- In Quebec the categories of care of children officially in the Educational Childcare Act include before and after school care which is deemed ‘unregulated daycare’ so the Act does not apply to them.  Childcare provided in a private home to six children or fewer, by a person who follows the rules of the Educational Childcare Act is also called ‘unrecognized care services’ and is not required to ‘offer an educational program’  These services are officially called unregulated and unrecognized daycare. Some observers feel in this way a stigma is created  by such labels. All care is actually regulated by Canadians laws that protect the rights of a child to supervision and care and to not be subject to neglect or abuse.

2018 – Nonprofit daycares in Quebec get the highest subsidy but for profits (garderies) also get operational funding. Quebec encourages for profit centres by letting parents who use them use a tax credit to cover up to 90% of the fee, depending on income. The for profit daycares are now over 50% of all centre based care for 0-4 year olds

2018 – Fees paid by parents for the low cost daycare range from $8.05 per day (for households earning under $51,34) up to $21.95 a day (for households making over $165,000 a year) The actual cost to operate the daycare exceeds the highest rate however so all spots are subsidized by taxpayers.  Fees are reduced for second children at the centre if the family is low income.

2018- Under Quebec law during its first five years of operation after getting a license, a daycare must have one third of staff with a diploma of college studies or the equivalent. After five years of operation two thirds of the educational staff must have the diploma or the equivalent.   Those who offer care of children of others at their home must have received at least 45 hours of training within 3 years before applying for the permit and every year they are to take part in 6 hours of professional development. (the claim that daycare staff is more competent than parents, that they are expert, professional and trained is an interesting claim given these standards of actual qualifications.

2018 – Under Quebec law subsidized daycares may not have over 80 children in any one centre. The ratios of adults to children must be no fewer than one adult/ educator for every 5 children under age 18 months, one adult for every 8 children aged 18 months to 4 years and one adult to every 10 four year olds. In a 4 year old kindergarten program there can be one teacher to every 18 children. These ratios mean that a mother of triplet infants is widely recognized as likely needing neighborhood and family help while at a daycare having one adult look after five infants is the norm.

2018- When parents express concern about low daycare quality, many ask for funding for parenting itself so they can provide or pay for care they like. However the common answer from daycare operators is to have government improve care by funding daycares better, paying staff better to retain them longer, training them better and devoting more of the provincial budget to the system. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recommends that governments spend 1% of the GDP on early childhood and daycares interpret that to mean funding to daycare. 

2018- Though Quebec offers low cost subsidized daycare, it does not offer it at all locations. Public centres get the subsidy directly but private providers also get funding though not as much or in the same way. When parents use a private facility they have to pay the full cost up front and then get a tax rebate. (McCluskey )

2018 – The most heavily subsidized Quebec spots, called centres de la petite enfance (CPEs) claim the highest improvements in child development outcomes (Fortin)  However this care style is used by only one third of the province’s children (McCluskey)

2018- Another shift in childcare jargon is in the reporting of current practice. Instead of numbers at daycare as current usage stats, data is reported as a failure of use of daycare by those not there, so that unless there is 100% use, the situation is now portrayed as lack of ‘access’ to childcare. Another reporting strategy is not to tell numbers at the centre on a given day but number of ‘spaces’ available and funded. The funding formula aims at funding the ‘spaces’ not the actual children which is argued as logical since a child on a given day may be home sick. However by this formula of funding spaces instead of children, taxpayers can end up paying for empty spaces, where there are no children. Studies by some parents’ rights groups find little publicized data about vacancies at some centres  not often repored long wait lists.  The line ups and often reported long wait lists are most often for the subsidized spots not for the spots where fees are higher.

2018- The government has standards for the operation of the government run centres de la petite enfance. It does not have standards for private operators (McCluskey)

2018- In Quebec the Ministry of the Family now regulates the operation of early childhood centres, subsidized daycare centres, non-subsidized daycare centres, and educational ‘home’ childcare offered by a 3rd party. The Ministry of Education however is the one that operates the half day kindergarten for 4 year olds, the full day kindergarten for 4 year olds in disadvantaged neighborhoods, the full day kindergarten program for 5 year olds and the Passe-Partout program, a free program for 4 year olds that helps them ‘transition’ into preschool and with parenting courses. This means that two branches of government are funding aspects of care of children.

2019 -Only 22,250 marriages take place per year  in Quebec, down 600 from two years earlier and half the  number from 1970.  The average age of marriage is 33.5 years for men and 32.1 for women so they are marrying 8 years later than couples did in 1970. This delay affects fertility and number of children and also tends to increase however career pursuit and household income.

2019- As births decline Quebec welcomes more immigrants to enhance the tax base.  Non- permanent residents arriving total 260,000 in one year.

2019 – Each province sets its own personal income tax rates. In Ontario they range from 5.0% , 9.15, 11.16%, 12.16%, 131.6%, up to 20% and 36% depending on income. In Quebec they start higher at 15% and going to 20%, 24% and 25.75% of income. Quebec unlike some provinces collects its own corporate taxes,

2019 – The Parti Quebecois now plans to provide affordable lunches for all elementary school students, and the program will cost $39 million a year (the shift to state providing food and not having parents provide it also has happened at Swedish daycares which also regulate amount of protein, carbohydrates and sugar consumed)  The party wants to eliminate the sliding scale of fees for daycare users and let all parents get low cost care, at most $8.50 per day per child, regardless of household income.  The second child would be charged $4 a day and the third would get care free. The cost of this would be paid by all taxpayers. The party also says that daycare should be entirely fee for families earning under $34,000 a year/ The earlier claim that a king society funds daycare for the poor who have to use it is now shifted so that daycare is described by proponents as a vital need of the middle class and rich also.

2019 -The Coalition Avenir Quebec party seeks to abolish school boards and replace them with service centres to administer the schoolslThis move is eventually made. The party also wants to make public pre kindergarten for four year olds available in daycares.

2019 – The Quebec Solidaire party promise free education for anyone living in Quebec from daycare to graduate university programs, at a cost of $2.5 billion a year.

2019 -In Quebec the Liberals promise free ‘educational services’ for four year olds in government subsidized daycares and childcares, costing $250 million more per year. They will also give families with children under age 18, annually up to $300 a year per child more, (82 cents a day) The universal benefits are still significantly smaller than the per space funding that goes in addition to daycare users.

2019- The economy of Quebec accounts for 20.35%   of the Canadian GDP. However much of the revenue of the province comes through equalization payments especially from the energy sector in western Canada.    Quebec’s industries are research and development, aerospace, information technology, mining, pulp and paper, forestry, and agri-food. Its daycare system therefore is partly funded by other provinces under a compulsory earlier legislated plan to help poorer provinces. Even when Quebec becomes a wealthier province this formula is not adjusted by the federal government.

2019- In the federal election the Liberals and NDP  promise more daycare spaces and the Conservative party continues to add funding parents who do not use daycare. The Conservatives win 34.3% of the vote and the Liberals 33.1% of the vote but because of seat distribution the Liberals hold 157 seats and the Conservatives 121, so the Liberals again form government. The NDP gets 16% of the vote, the Bloc Quebecois 7.6% and the  Greens 6.6%.

2019- The government of Quebec sets up a ministry of unpaid caregiving.

2019 – The Quebec government changes funding for daycare. Now parents with an income of $78,320 or less will not have to pay extra for daycare. In 2020 parents with an income of $108,530 will not have to pay this extra fee and in 2022 no parents will have to pay the extra fee. Parents at home get no parallel financial support.

2020 -Statistics Canada reports that only 3% of parents who do not use daycare say it is because they can’t find one.  A Cardus study finds many vacancies at childcare centers – so what the public wants is not just daycare

2020- Quebec school boards are now replaced by school service centres.

2020  -A  new language game emerges in the study of children’s care, not just omitting care by a parent as childcare, so excluding it from government tallies.  The rhetoric also classifies ‘licensed childcare’ as if that style is more trustworthy and that all other care styles, informal with family or private arrangements, are  since not licensed, somewhat suspect.  One childcare researcher  makes the case that the number of children in ‘licensed’ childcare is low and says this means there is an urgent need for more daycare.  One claim by a University of Toronto research society is that before the pandemic ‘only about 28% ‘ of families in the paid workforce had a child in licensed childcare.

2020- The Government of Quebec ministry of the family regulates daycare and under its rules to qualify for subsidies certain conditions must be met. A daycare centre must operate at least from 7 am to 6PM Monday to Friday and a given child should not spend over 10 continuous hours per day at the centre. The centre can charge parents for meals the child eats to a  maximum $2 a day for breakfast, $4 for an extra meal, and can charge at most $5 an hour for extra daycare over the normal schedule above the 10 hour daily maximum..

2020  – Labor unions have a strong presence in the province, not only in daycares but also in the school system. Province wide unions represent all teachers and negotiate working conditions province- wide

2020 – Policy Options estimates the cost of a national ‘childcare’ plan at $2 billion per year, increasing by that $2 billion amount also each calendar year.

2020- The global covid- 19 pandemic forces lockdown in most communities across Canada and in some provinces schools, daycares and many businesses close their doors as people are encouraged to socially isolate and work from home. During this period, parents are now home with their children and many households adopt a new lifestyle of Zoom webinars with office colleagues and more casual and less rushed interactions with their children at home. Daycare operators see a loss of income and are given government funding to compensate them for the financial loss.  Some daycares for children of essential health care of food service workers re open with tight protocols and over time other daycares also reopen with children being masked and in small groups. However public reaction to re opening is mixed. Some parents and businesses admit they enjoy the work from home lifestyle and want to make it or a hybrid model their permanent lifestyle.  The operators of daycares however resist this trend and promote the idea not only that return to daycare is good but that daycare is an essential service so women can return to paid work.  A Leger poll in Quebec conducted for the Observatoire des tout-petits asks questions about whether parents have experienced stress during the pandemic though it is less clear that responses indicate need for more daycare.  The survey finds that 50% of Quebec parents felt the pandemic had a negative effect on their child. The poll found that 43% of those asked who usually could rely on family members such as grandparents were unable to have those caregivers for a time during covid restrictions.  The poll however admitted that 75% of parents said they had been able to spend more time with their children and monitor good eating habits more closely during the pandemic..

2021- Some advocates claim that the Quebec model of funding daycare is a success because Quebec has the highest rate of paid employment of mothers of children under age 3, in the world. (Policy Options)

2021 – Under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, salaried workers and the self employed can get benefits for time with a newborn or adopted child as long as the parent in the preceding year had required levels of paid work income. Only mothers who have experienced pregnancy, childbirth or termination of a pregnancy after 19 complete weeks of gestation are eligible.  The paternity benefits are only for the father of the spouse of a woman who gave birth if the spouse is registered on the birth certificate.  Some parental benefits can be taken by parents simultaneously or in succession. However all of the benefits are given only to mothers who had paid work.

2021-The cost of a daycare space in a subsidized Quebec centre is $181 a month, while in Toronto the cost of care of an infant is $1866 a month. Cost of care of an infant is usually higher given that babies require intense feeding schedules and careful monitoring at all times. In Canada the Green party considers reports that daycare of children under age 3 can have negative impacts and it promotes care from in daycare only from age 3 on.  The Liberal party campaigns nationally for care of the child at home for a year to be covered by maternity benefits for those who had paid work and by a guaranteed annual income for mothers who did not have paid work. The care of infants who are fed every two hours is so demanding that many politicians actually see care at home as less costly than daycare

2021- The several tiers of childcare in Quebec are regulated for different staffing rules levels. The not for profit centres are obliged to have a higher ratio of trained qualified staff.  Policy Options reports that the low pay of the job leads to low enrolment in college training for daycare work and says there is a labor shortage to fill the positions.

2021- There is pressure to move more daycare costs to the education system and to enrol children in earlier and earlier kindergarten. In Quebec there are plans to create new kindergarten classes for 4 year olds. In Ontario where half day and full day kindergarten already exist for 4 year olds, daycares lost  clientele. However many daycare workers then moved into the schools as kindergarten assistants. Unions that have daycare workers as members may be affected however by those shifts.

2021- The federal government under Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announces a nation-wide daycare plan, modelled after the Quebec system. The federal government will invest $30 billion over 5 years to set up a system whereby parents only have to pay $10 a day for care of their child, regardless of household income. Since daycare is a provincial responsibility, this arrangement must be endorsed by each individual province and territory under a 50-50 cost sharing arrangement. The provinces will only receive the money if they commit to the specific plan as outlined. Several governments sign on to the plan, many cash-strapped due to covid assistance payments to citizens and needing the federal funding.  Manitoba. British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Labrador, Yukon, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick sign on. Alberta hesitates, wanting the money but freedom to spend it in ways that also recognize parental preferences for private childcare and care at home. Premier Jason Kenney says the plan otherwise is a cookie cutter approach and lacks flexibility but the federal government refuses to give the funds unless they are spent only on state run not for profit care centres or 3rd party care at approved family settings.  The province of Quebec also does not want the funds earmarked for government run care because it already has its own program. It does want the money, to spend more flexibly as it sees fit, and it is given approval by the federal government to do that.  The Alberta government balks at the federal inconsistency.  Economist Jack Mintz says that the federal arrangement is flawed because it fails to recognize provincial differences in fiscal capacity, does not meet the diverse needs of Canadians and that it also is flawed in design with timing delays very likely. Mintx suggests other solutions including expansion of full time junior kindergarten, or changes to the Canada child benefit that goes to all parents not just those using daycare. Mintz suggests another option of tax credits or transfers directly to parents and notes that the federal plan  excludes many small daycares that operate in nearby neighborhood locations, that are of particular value to shift workers and part-time paid workers.

2021- During the federal election many political parties now promote a universal daycare plan with the appeal that costs for a daycare spot would significantly go down for parents. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimates that a national plan would make direct fees to parents very low and that parents would save $10,000 a year per child by 2022 and $20,000 per child per year by 2026. These estimates do not however examine how taxes for the general public may go up to subsidize this low cost or how the service itself, such as group size or staff education, would be adjusted to keep operating costs low.

2021- The Bloc Quebecois proposes a caregiver  benefit during the federal election

2021 -a nation wide survey cited by columnist Barbara Kay looks at how many people would approve of the Canadian government having a national childcare ‘system’ though the meaning of this was explained two ways.. If a system means direct funding to families there is high support. If a system means funding only for daycare there is less support. . The “Quebec model” is the latter, funding care only at the daycare.  72% of those asked supported a ‘national system’, particularly in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.  89% of women and 69% of men supported having a national ‘system’.  However Kay pointed out that this support is not necessarily for a Quebec model.

2021 – Cardus Family research studies “The real costs  and complexities of national daycare’ finding that the plan is not being transparent about how much universal daycare would actually cost.  The estimate the public is told is  $9.2 billion a year after five years have passed and then $6 billion a year. The researchers suggest this is an underestimate.. In 1984 a task force said a national plan would cost $11.3 billion a year ($26.1 billion in today’s dollars). A 1998 study estimated $7.8 billion cost ($12.1 billion today) In 2009 Dr. Fraser Mustard estimated national care would cost $18- $20 billion a year ($22-24.5 billion in today’s dollars) The announced plan admits there will be costs in addition to the announced one.  There will be $2.5 billion for indigenous childcare over the next five years and a secretariat to oversee the whole system costing $34.5 million over 5 years. The plan does not mention the equivalent matching costs each province will have to make under a 50/50 agreement. The plan does not count some obvious new costs.  Before and after school care is not counted in.  Full day kindergarten for 4-5 year olds is not counted. The cost of liability insurance, education equipment, office supplies, transportation and hygiene is also not counted. The Cardus study says the low cost model would actually cost $17 billion in year five, being $9.2 billion from the federal government, $3.6 billion from user fees and $4.2 billion from the provinces The high cost model would cost $36.3 billion, being $9.2 billion from the federal government, $3.8 billion from the user fees and $23.3 billion the provinces have to cover. The researchers estimate that the provinces will be forced to subsidize the plan much more than is being announced, with PEI being forced to pay $76 billion per year and Ontario possibly as much as $9.5 billion a year.

2021- . Montreal Economics Institute studies the Quebec childcare model. They say that the cost of $30 billion for the federal plan ($6 billion a year) will rise to $8 billion a year thereafter.They make the case that the Quebec model that is being used already has shown flaws.. Researchers Ouellette and Shaw are concerned that the unions that organize daycare workers have been increasing their demands every yearso costs will continue to soar.  They are concerned that though the program claims to benefit the poor who need to have a paid job and can’t afford childcare unless it is low cost, the program actually is used more by and benefits more the middle and highly paid parent. Ouellette and Shaw suggest that the better answer is to “subsidize parents rather than childcare establishments” They say this money could go based on household income but they feel that parents should be ‘in charge’ and daycare services should have to be ‘subject to the rules of a competitive market’ so each centre has to provide good service to get customers.  “Having the money follow the children would also ensure greater accessibility and avoid a one size fits all policy”,

2021- Angus Reid poll found that 84% of Canadian parents would like to be home with a child full time till the child enters school

2021 – Caitlin Rose Morgante is an economics student at Boston University and a research associate with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.. She has written in May 2021 in Troy Media that universal daycare is a type of social engineering. She notes a 1997 National Bureau of Economic Research study that found that universal childcare “hurt children and families”. It found that the policy in Quebec resulted in  a 60-150% rise in anxiety for children in it and an 8-20% decline in motor and social skills. Though $9,000 was invested by government per child to set up the program, the results were not positive.She cites the Centre for Future Work that found the real goal of such a plan is to generate $17-$29 billion in tax revenues from increased labor force participation of parents and an expanded childcare worker base. Jim Stanford of the centre admits this is an ‘activist ‘ agenda that empowers unions and workers.

2021- In the federal election Conservative leader Erin O’ Toole proposes rather that universal daycare as in Quebec, a more universal benefit for parents, of a refundable tax credit to reimburse up to 75% of the cost of care of children . This funding would apply not just for daycare users but also for other care styles, as long as they were non-family members.   It would therefore include paid care by others, possibly even by mom and pop private daycares, nurseries, and nannies. However it still would not subsidize income loss or costs parents incur when they take care of their own child.   Conservatives estimate that for allfamilies with an annual income under $150,000, there would be lower costs than currently for care of a child. A family with income  of $30,000 a year would get up to $6,000 benefit and payments would be reeived by parents monthly.

2021 – Surveys of parental views of childcare often adjust the jargon to select focus on only some aspects of concerns.  Asking whether parents have difficulty weighing the decision of who takes care of the child, is often framed as difficulty finding good daycare.  The number of children on wait lists at subsidized daycares is revealed to be misleading given that one parent interviewed by a Vancouver news station admits his two year old is on 40 waitlists, which suggests that numbers of children on such lists inflate by 4,000% the numbers of children actually there. An Angus Reid poll finds that during the pandemic 47% of parents at home everyday did not rely on any other form of external childcare arrangement. 84% of those already at home during the pandemic said they would prefer to stay that way until the child was age 5 and entered the school system.  Only small numbers said they were at home just because care outside the home was too costly (27%).

%d bloggers like this: