Quebec's $7-a-day daycare: doubts about the doubts.

AuthorBouchard, Camil

Dear Mr. Richards,

I have read with interest your response to Luc Allaire regarding low-cost daycare services in Quebec ("Quebec's $7-a-day universal childcare: Introducing a few doubts," Inroads, Winter/ Spring 2011, pp. 107-09). In light of your criticism of these services, I would like to draw your attention to four aspects of this issue.

The first aspect is costs. I'm sure you know that if you take into account both fees and the taxes they pay, the parents who use the daycare services assume 40 per cent of their costs.

Second, poverty is expensive. Low-cost daycare has made a major contribution to reducing the poverty rate among families with children aged three to five--a 43 per cent reduction for single-parent families and a 52 per cent reduction for two-parent families. In this way too, Quebec is not Alberta!

Third, it's true that, in general, enrolment in daycare has not had the impact on the development of young children that had been hoped for. However, data from the Etude Longitudinale du Developpement des Enfants du Quebec (ELDEQ) show that daycare does make a difference for children who are in regulated daycare environments. In addition, the most vulnerable children are still underrepresented in the low-cost daycare system. This is because government's first priority in the conception and administration of the system has been balancing work and family, not the cognitive development of the most vulnerable children. No doubt, there is still much work to do in terms of quality of service, especially in relation to training staff in home-based and for-profit private daycare. And while you advocate age-four kindergarten, studies show that intervention needs to begin earlier than that.

In terms of Aboriginal children, as you know, there are many Centres de la Petite Enfance in Inuit and First Nations communities. Undoubtedly, these CPEs face the same issues of organization and quality, only more acutely. You are right to highlight this question and call for more to be done.

Finally, you maintain that Quebec imposes high taxes on its citizens. However, this assertion needs to be nuanced, and recent studies at the Universite de Sherbrooke come to a substantially different conclusion. These studies show that when government benefits and allowances are subtracted from the taxes and contributions that people pay, Quebecers' net fiscal burden is smaller than it appears. Thus, single-parent families in Quebec, rather than contributing...

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