Quebec and the federal government have reached an agreement funding up to 37,000 new child care spaces. The agreement, described as an asymmetrical agreement because it has some different provisions from those signed by other provinces, recognizes that Quebec has already taken more steps to build a network or system of high quality, affordable and not-for-profit child care. The $6 billion dollars of funding over the next five years will provide Quebec with additional resources to complete their child care network, and improve the pay scale for educators.
As of March 31, there were 307,490 licensed childcare spaces in Quebec:
- 32%,in CPEs (Centres de la petite enfance – non-profit child care centres)
- 15% in Quebec subsidized for-profit centres
- 30% in Quebec subsidized home-based child care
- 23% in for-profit unsubsidized daycares
Subsidized child care programs may charge no more than $8.50 a day, while unsubsidized spaces cost between $40-60 a day.
The creation of new spaces could mean the building of new CPEs, the “crown jewel”, and generally of better quality of child care of the Quebec system. More than 50,000 children are on the wait list for a spot in one of Quebec’s Centres de la petite enfance.
Creating new spaces will require new construction and the government will have to put in place strategies to ensure that new programs get put in place where they are needed most. The province must also take measures to address the current problems of recruiting and retaining qualified staff.
The shortage of qualified early childhood educators has led the provincial government to reduce standards and offer incentives to students enrolled in ECE college programs. However, child care advocates and early childhood educators say the low wages and poor working conditions are the main factor driving down the supply of qualified staff. The Quebec unions who represent child care staff are currently in wage negotiations with the provincial government. Paid programming time, support for children with special needs, and ratios are also being raised at the bargaining table. Unionized early childhood educators voted unanimously for strike days this fall.