Why should we care that opposition parties in the National Assembly of Quebec howl at the provincials Liberals? This time, they may have a good reason for all the yelling, since the Quebec government has apparently broken a promise they made during the election (how shocking!).
This promise in question was one that would keep the $7/day daycare fee for all Quebecers. As of January 1st 2016, a sliding scale will be introduced. No longer will the paediatrician who coaches rowing at McGill pay the same rate for daycare as the minimum wage worker at Tim Hortons. Premier Couillard finds that this is “true social justice” and a perfect compromise between scrapping the program and getting everyone to pay $25 or $30. He is right on that front; implementing a sliding scale is better than scraping an entire program (particularly if the government can’t pay for it).
Along with opposition members, Quebec daycare workers and some parents are calling this move by the government “a step backward.” Presently Quebec parents pay somewhere around $150/month for daycare. Jamie Benoit described that the sliding scale would make things pinch, since she and her partner will have to pay more than they do now once the scale is implemented. This means they must be in a higher income bracket, since families with a total income less than $55,000 will continue to pay $7.30 a day.
To most Quebecers, to most Canadians, and to the Premier, it makes sense for the rich to pay more. They have more money. It goes without saying that $150/month is not the same to someone who makes $24,000 a year compared to someone who makes $124,000 a year.
The rest of Canada might raise eyebrows at such complaints coming from Quebec, where, on average, only 6% of a woman’s income goes to child care. In the rest of the country, the amount spent on childcare ranges from 15% in Winnipeg to 36% in Brampton, Ontario. A lot of mothers, and fathers, would kill to fork over only 6% for childcare. Although the Conservative government has increased subsidies and benefits for children, the province that benefits the most is Quebec! $100/month per child, doesn’t go very far outside of Quebec, where childcare is around $1,000 a month.
Earlier this fall, the Federal NDP announced its intent to bring in a $15 dollar/day Federal child care plan on top of the Conservatives’ tidbit to families. NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who served with Couillard in the Quebec cabinet of Premier Jean Charest, explicitly highlighted that this national plan will be based on the Quebec seven dollar a day model. With the changes in Quebec’s daycare plan coming, I wonder if the NDP will tweak the platform. Then again, “$15 daycare for some, and more expensive daycare for the rest” doesn’t have the same ring to it. Nevertheless, if we are to trust Mr. Mulcair’s former cabinet compatriot, that is true social justice.