What Are They Thinking?

Back in November 2014, NDP leader Tom Mulcair introduced a plan to implement fifteen dollar a day childcare right across the country. This was a plan which was inspired by Quebec’s childcare system.

As many are aware, Quebec began offering seven dollar a day childcare back in 1997. Since then, the use of childcare programs has risen one-third, while the Quebec platform has also allowed for seventeen thousand more mothers to get back into the workforce. According to Canadian Economist Mr. Pierre Fortin, eighty-five percent of women are now employed in Quebec.

These numbers and plans might seem to be good to be true, and in reality they are. Findings produced by the National Bureau of Economic Research (2015) report that the Quebec childcare system is having a negative effect on the personal and social well-being of children and their families. In comparison to the rest of the country, the Bureau has found that sixty-percent more children in the Quebec childcare system are more aggressive and hyperactive. Research has also found that twenty-percent more children in Quebec lack personal motor and social skills, compared to children in the rest of Canada.

Issues in the Quebec childcare system extend well beyond the childcare setting. Due to the problems described above, many parents in Quebec have found that their personal relationships with their children have dwindled, resulting in less personal satisfaction from parents.

Last May, Canadian economist Pierre Fortin visited Alberta to speak on the topic of fifteen dollar a day childcare. As expected, he spoke of the childcare model, and how it has evolved. Although Mr. Fortin did an excellent job at discussing the economic benefit for this type of care, his analysis did not include the well-being of children who are participating in these programs. When it came to the Q&A portion of the program, I questioned him regarding the physical health issues within the Quebec childcare system. Sadly, Pierre wasn’t able to answer any of the questions regarding the state of children, and their questionable outcomes within these programs.

At the end of the day, one must question the real benefit of universal childcare for Alberta’s parents and their children. According to Mr. Fortin, Quebec has more mothers working in Quebec then Alberta. However, according to Statistics Canada, only sixty-four percent of parents are working in Quebec, in comparison to seventy-percent in Saskatchewan, and seventy-two percent in Alberta. In summary, these findings suggest that provincial or nationally run childcare programs may not be the best thing for the child, the parents, and the tax payers.

At We Did It! School-Age Care Society we are committed to working with our community on developing programs which feature qualified staff, low program ratios, as well as programs where children can feel a real sense of belonging—a place that they can call their own.

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