BLAINVILLE, Quebec, March 26, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – At an election campaign stop at a daycare center in a suburb of Montreal, Quebec's premier again promised a government subsidized daycare spot for every Quebec child by 2017, according to local radio station CJAD News.
In 2012, Premier Pauline Marois promised that by 2016, there would be a $7-a-day daycare space for every child in the province, according to a Montreal Gazette report quoted by Child Care Canada.
Marois said in 2012 that 28,000 new spaces would be created by 2016, which would add $261 million a year to the more than $2-billion annual cost of the current public daycare system. The new spaces would bring the total of subsidized spaces across Quebec to 250,000.
Marois said the PQ government's mandate is for state-run early childhood training centres, and slammed Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard and his party for not supporting the public daycare system.
While the PQ government keeps pushing its daycare agenda, critics of Quebec's state-regulated child care point out that studies have shown daycare not only does not improve children’s educational outcomes, but that putting young children into these settings has strikingly negative consequences.
A Université du Quebec economics professor who conducted research between 1994 and 2006 on children under 5 years old in Quebec, and compared them with children of the same age group throughout Canada, found a “serious quality problem.”
Prof. Pierre Lefebvre said that Quebec’s heavily-subsidized daycare program has been promoted by the government as a means to advance “socialization” and learning. Quebecers were told the system would “promote children’s development so they would perform better in school later,” Lefebvre stated.
But, he said, “This never happened.”
“I would go as far as to say that daycare quality is very low, both in terms of educators’ formation and in terms of the quality of interactions between educators and children,” Lefebvre said.
Lefebvre’s findings echo the research of Jonas Himmelstrand of Sweden, guest speaker at a 2011 family policy conference in Ottawa put on by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC).
Himmelstrand, who studied Sweden’s similarly defective daycare and family policies for years, told LifeSiteNews in an interview at the time that the highly subsidized and promoted daycare systems, far from creating better families and children, result in parent-child alienation, poorer social and educational development, and oftentimes the breakdown of families.
Other studies of universal daycare as offered in Quebec have revealed some serious dangers to children, and to parents.
A study led by University of Toronto economist Michael Baker and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that children in daycare were 17 times more hostile than children raised at home, and almost three times more anxious.
“We analyzed the impact of Quebec’s program on work choices, family functioning and children’s well-being and found some positive and some strikingly negative outcomes,” the researchers' report stated.
“We uncover striking evidence that children are worse off in a variety of behavioral and health dimensions, ranging from aggression to motor-social skills to illness,” Baker said.
The study also found a negative effect on parents. “Our analysis also suggests that the new childcare program led to more hostile, less consistent parenting, worse parental health, and lower-quality parental relationships,” the report said.
The authors of this study on Quebec's daycare program concluded that “preliminary evidence leaves it unclear, on balance, whether this program is what is best for children and their parents.”
Last year, a poll conducted by the IMFC found that a majority of Canadians believe that preferential government funding for daycare centers discriminates against parents who choose other childcare options.
The IMFC poll of 2,022 Canadians from across the country, titled “Canadian daycare desires, Part III,” found that regardless of income, gender or working arrangements, a large majority of Canadians (76 percent) believe a child is better off at home with a parent rather than with a “competent caregiver.”
The poll found that 62 percent of parents with a post-graduate degree and 80 percent of those with some university said it is best for children under six to be cared for by a parent. Only 36 percent of post grads polled said they want public funds to go to daycare centers or to daycare in schools.
Overall, 61 percent of those polled prefer funding options that provide support to families rather than to a daycare system.
Daycare centres were the last choice of Canadians, the poll revealed. Only 11 percent of respondents in British Columbia considered centre-based care a good alternative for parents who are unable to stay at home.
On funding, the IMFC poll found Canadians take issue with the government funding of daycares instead of parents.
When asked, “If government should spend money to look after children, how should they do so,” a total of 61 percent of Canadians said they believe funding should go directly to parents.
Only 12 percent believe the government should provide subsidies to child care centers to improve quality or create more spaces. A mere 10 percent would expand the public school system to include child care.
According to the Kids First Parent Association of Canada, a British Columbia pro-family group, the IMFC poll affirms their advocacy of child care being provided within the home by a parent.
“This discrimination against parental child care is a primary cause of child poverty. It deprives families of real choice and public funds intended to help children. It coerces parents into more time at jobs and apart from kids, and pushes them into licensed daycare which the research repeatedly states is of ‘minimal to mediocre quality’ and inadequate to meet children’s developmental needs,” said Kids First president, Helen Ward.
The Quebec elections are set for April 7.