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.