“Given the difference a universal child care program like Quebec’s can make for young families, even the Fraser Institute should recognize that it’s irresponsible to spread inaccurate information about it. Sadly, that’s not the case” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (02 May 2017) — A recent report from an economist at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) has confirmed what many people suspected — when the Fraser Institute criticized Quebec’s universal child care program they got their facts wrong.
In his report, Twelve Flawed Statements of the Fraser Institute on Quebec’s Child Care Program, Pierre Fortin showed that Quebec’s universal child care program has economic benefits makes ife more affordable for families.
“In most parts of Canada, families with small children struggle to find quality affordable child care”, said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “Given the difference a universal child care program like Quebec’s can make for young families, even the Fraser Institute should recognize that it’s irresponsible to spread inaccurate information about it. Sadly, that’s not the case”
Universal program means more women have the option of going back to work
According to the report, researchers from the University of Toronto, UQAM, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia and Queens University have found that Quebec’s child care program has significantly increased women’s participation in the workforce. It’s estimated that 70,000 more mothers are working as a result of Quebec’s childcare program.
In the 17 years after Quebec introduced its child care program, the increase in the number of women of child bearing age in the labour force was higher than in either neighbouring region.
But in spite of those facts, the Fraser Institute is looking for other reasons for the increase in the number of mothers who can afford to make the choice to work.
Quebec program pays for itself
What has helped make Quebec’s program affordable is that the additional tax revenue from more mother’s working exceeds the cost. The report described how in 2008, the estimated increase in Quebec’s spending on child care as a result of its universal program was $1.2 billion. Additional tax revenue from more mothers working was $2.2 billion. $1.5 billion of that tax revenue went to the provincial government.
That’s a powerful argument for universal child care, so it’s not surprising that the Fraser Institute doesn’t like it. But when the Fraser Institute questioned whether the fact Quebec’s child care program pays for itself, it overlooked many of the ways the child care program increases government revenues.
Fraser Institute ignores a problem that does exist with the Quebec program
While the report from Professor Fortin did identify one weakness with Quebec’s program, the Fraser Institute chose to ignore it. Given the ideological bias of the Fraser Institute that’s not surprising.
The level of care children receive in Quebec’s child care program varies a great deal depending on the type of child care facility. The programs at the overwhelming majority of non-profit early childhood centres are rated as good or excellent. But it’s a very different story for private, for-profit childcare centres. The percentage of for-profit childcare centres where quality was inadequate was more than 3 times as high as the percentage of those rated good or excellent.
As only a third of the child care spaces in Quebec are at non-profit early childhood centres, this does have an impact on quality. But the problem is not universal child care. It’s an over reliance on private, for-profit child care.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. ~ NUPGE