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Quebec’s $5 daycare plan

The Story

After decades of discussion and debate, Quebec passes into law the first province-wide subsidized daycare system in the country. Costing only $5 a day for any Quebec family regardless of income, the new plan is quickly heralded as a model for the rest of Canada. In this CBC Television report, Mark Kelley looks at the revolutionary new plan and wonders if it may prove too popular for its own good. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Sept. 17, 1997
Guest(s): Gina Gasparinni, Mimi Pontbriand, Dan Ricick
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Mark Kelley
Duration: 2:47

Did You know?

• In the summer of 1997, Quebec Education Minister Pauline Marois introduced the province's new child care initiative. The Parti Québécois initiative was the first in the country to offer cheap, regulated daycare to all residents.

• The original plan saw parents pay $5 a day (for a maximum of 10 hours each day) for care of their four-year-old children while the government paid the balance - about $17 a day. The policy expanded to include three-year-olds and after-school care in September 1998, and infants to two-year-olds by 2000.

• Prior to this, Quebec had a mixed-bag approach to child care services, regulating a system of public day-care centres, drop-in centres and private daycares under the Ministry of Education. The 1997 legislation created a new body, the Early Childhood Centre (Centre de la petite enfance), which replaced the daycares (garderies). It oversees the education of daycare workers and the running of all day-care centres.

• The millions of dollars needed for the plan were generated in part by the cancellation of provincial tax deductions for child care, and the halting of the federal Child Care Expense deduction.

• Since its announcement, Quebec's daycare plan has been both praised for being groundbreaking and criticized for being too ambitious. In more recent years the system seems to have proven to be too popular for its own good.

• With everyone allowed access to the plan regardless of income, demand quickly outweighs supply. Even in this 1997 clip, reporter Mark Kelley talks about additional fees of up to $15 a day to help cover expenses.

• According to an article in the Toronto Star from January 2000, Quebec parents were waiting up to two years for a spot in a daycare, on lists 300 people long.

• The article said "landing one of the coveted spots has become akin to wining a lottery."

• In response to the overwhelming demand, Premier Jean Charest raised the daily rate to $7 shortly after his election in 2003.

• For more on the ongoing difficulties of Quebec daycare, go to the additional clip A lottery for the lucky.


Who Cares For Our Kids? The Changing Face of Daycare in Canada more