What Lessons can the Rest of Canada Learn from Quebec Child Care?

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What is “the Quebec model” of early learning and child care?

There are several different lessons to learn about the Quebec model.  Generally, the decisions to rely on direct funding, on building good quality not for profit child care, on building a system that includes enhanced maternity parental benefits/leaves as well as schoolaged child care have been very positive.  But, we also need to learn from the problems Quebec has had.  They only had sufficient supply for 15% of the child population (0-4) at the time that they announced low-cost universal child care, and they’ve been behind the curve ever since.  That really is what has forced them into too much expansion of family child care and of for-profit child care.  And, it is now clear that both of those are of substantially lower quality than non-profit centre care.  And, so also they have ended up with many lower-income families in lower-quality care, and they have ended up with very long waiting lists for the good quality services (although there is now enough total supply of all kinds to meet total demand).

In short, there are a lot of useful lessons to be drawn by us in the rest of Canada.  We need to figure out how to expand affordability quickly enough to make a big difference for families and yet slowly enough that we don’t suffer all of these problems.  It won’t be easy, particularly since the federal government is more a funder than a manager of child care’s development.

Ontario’s Full-Day Kindergarten – a report for ETFO

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Executive Summary

Download the Executive Summary

Main Report

Download the Main Report

The Background Story

In early February this year, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario released my report on Ontario’s Full-Day Kindergarten. It was written as a reponse to Conservative Government plans to reform kindergarten in negative ways. My review of the literature found that these plans were badly off base – full-day kindergarten in Ontario is very good and worth preserving (and improving).

There’s a hidden story about that study on full-day kindergarten in Ontario.  I actually wrote it towards the end of 2019, in response to the statements by Doug Ford and his ministers about what they might do to change full-day kindergarten.  All of the reforms would have been highly negative. But the Government kept playing with the ideas, partly because they never supported the move back in 2010 to full-day kindergarten, and partly to have the union over a barrel during negotiations.  So, I wrote this study and finished it at the end of 2019, and ETFO got it ready for publication.  At the end of 2019 and early 2020, the Elementary Teachers Federation (ETFO) was in acrimonious bargaining with the government, and the government would not commit to keeping full-day kindergarten (this was one of ETFO’s bargaining demands).

So, in January 2020, ETFO decided to give the Toronto Star exclusive rights to cover the initial release of the study.  The Star wrote up an article on the study, and then, as good journalists do, sent the Executive Summary to the government to get a comment.  Well, the government, which wasn’t polling that well at that time, freaked out big time.  They didn’t respond to the Star, but they came into the bargaining session the next day and announced that they were going to guarantee that full-day kindergarten would be kept in its current form at least till the end of the contract in 2022!

So, it turns out that the study has already had a big and useful impact which almost nobody knows about.  But, I’m happy.

How much will Doug Ford’s tax credit for child care cost?

Doug Ford’s promised in the last election to deliver child care affordability for a small amount of money ($389 million per year) for all children in Ontario 0-14 years of age. That’s a total of 2.2 million children. In other words, Doug Ford thinks he can make child care affordable for a price of less than $180.00 per child per year. On the face of it, this cannot possibly be true.

Continue reading “How much will Doug Ford’s tax credit for child care cost?”