Once upon a time, in a land that is not far away, parents had access to an affordable, high-quality educational program for their young children, and it made them very happy. One day, the group of people who had set up this program lost power to another group of people who didn’t like it and did everything they could to put obstacles in its way.
Any resemblance to real people or political parties is definitely not coincidental. When the Parti Québécois government set up the Centres de la Petite Enfance (CPEs) in 1997, the Quebec Liberal Party, then in opposition, denounced these daycare centres. Liberal Leader Daniel Johnson attacked them as a “single model” that did not respect parents’ free choice.
It was soon apparent, however, that Quebecers liked the $5-a-day, not-for-profit, parent-run agencies. As a result, although the number of daycare spaces grew rapidly, there were still not enough to meet the demand. By the late spring of 2003, when the Liberals took office, Quebec had added 90,000 regulated daycare spaces to the 78,864 it had in 1997. In 2004, the number of regulated daycare spaces in Quebec represented nearly 37 per cent of the total number of such spaces in Canada.1 In a study published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Christa Japel, Richard E. Tremblay and Sylvana Côté noted,
Quebec is therefore unique in Canada, not only in the number of available regulated, fixed-fee, reduced-contribution
child care places, but also in its method of funding them. While in the other provinces and territories the emphasis is on providing child care grants to families, in Quebec a significant proportion of the provincial budget goes to service