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Quebec is still far from the 37,000 new daycare spaces promised for 2025

Photo: Jacques Nadeau Archives Le Devoir The waiting list for a place in subsidized daycare was still 30,660 children last February.

Patrice Bergeron – The Canadian Press in Quebec

4:38 p.m.

  • Quebec

The Legault government is stalling and remains very far from achieving its objective of providing all children with a place in subsidized daycare by 2025.

The Parti Québécois (PQ) arrived at this observation by collecting data from the network.

In October 2021, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) committed to creating 37,000 subsidized places by March 31, 2025, at a cost of $3 billion. The Prime Minister even showed his impatience and eagerness by suggesting that he found the deadline too far away.

However, last February, the waiting list was still 30,660 children whose access to a place was desired before October 31, 2023, without even taking into account the 34,000 others whose date desired attendance was after October 31.

According to the Ministry of Family, 14,596 places were completed as of December 31, 2023, i.e. in a little over two years and 15 months from the deadline. There would therefore be 22,400 remaining to be created by March 31, 2025.

“It’s mission impossible,” assesses the PQ’s Family spokesperson, Joël Arseneau, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

To (re)read

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From January 31, 2023 to January 31, 2024, a net 6,048 new subsidized places were created: 2,418 places in Early Childhood Centers (CPE), plus 5,907 places in subsidized private daycares, from which we must however subtract 2,277 places that already existed in unsubsidized private, but which have been converted into subsidized private.

This gives around 500 places created per month on average. At this rate, from February 2024 to March 2025, 6,500 new subsidized places will have been created, still far from being counted.

If we take another more recent indicator, in a table from the Ministry of Family, dated January 31, 2024, we indicate that 15,366 subsidized places in facilities, CPE or private, have been created.

It is also reported that 6,190 subsidized places were added in family daycares, between October 2021 and January 2024.

The total would then be 21,556 places created since the CAQ made its commitment in October 2021 until January 31, 2024 — even if, in its table, the government does not seem to take into account the data on subsidized places in a family environment in its calculation to achieve its commitment of 37,000.

The gap between 21,556, a more advantageous figure, and the final objective of 37,000 places on March 31 next year would still remain 15,444.

“We would need to more than double the rate” of creating subsidized places for the government to fulfill its commitment, assessed Mr. Arseneau.

The PQ opposition carried out a projection based on the available data to estimate as precisely as possible what the objective and pace would be for the next year.

The PQ added to the 6,048 subsidized places created in facilities (CPE and private) in one year as of January 31, 2024, the 1,994 places created in family settings in the same period, which gives 8,042 places in one year.

This gives an average of 670 places filled per month.

If we take the 15,444 places that remained to be created on January 31 and subtract the 1,340 places presumed to be created at this rate in February and March of this year, we would arrive at 14,104 subsidized places which would then remain to be created by March 31, 2025.

However, if 8,042 places were created one year from January 2023 to January 2024, the pace would have to be significantly increased to achieve 14,014 additional places, noted Mr. Arseneau.

“It’s the minimum of minimums to create,” he said. But the step could well be “even higher,” he continues.

Because, in fact, this nevertheless remains more optimistic than the 21,678 places that are said to be at the “in progress” stage as of January 31, 2024 which appear on the government dashboard, a measure which the opposition finds imprecise because it does not indicate the progress of the creation of these places.

“We do not know the government methodology and the partners [in the community] also say they have difficulty interpreting the data [from the dashboard]. »

Nevertheless, realizing the 21,678 places at the “in progress” stage in a little over a year seems “highly improbable”, concludes the PQ.

Against the law

Moreover, the PQ deplores that the government is going against its own law.

Indeed, Quebec is required to prioritize CPEs in the allocation of places. However, the creation of places currently “very clearly” favors the development of the private sector to the detriment of CPE.

It should first be aimed at CPE permit holders or CPE permit applicants, explained Mr. Arseneau, but this is not the case, because there are many more places created in subsidized private facilities than in CPE.

There is not even a single mention of CPE in the budget document which nevertheless has 434 pages, deplores the PQ.

“We are not going in the right direction,” concluded Mr. Arseneau.

“The government has made important promises through the Prime Minister and we are concluding that it will not happen. »

As recently as Thursday, the issue of daycare spaces was the subject of discussions during question period.

Liberal MP Jennifer Maccarone deplored the fact that, on net, 7,000 places were lost in the subsidized childcare network between 2020 and 2024.

For her part, the Minister of Families, Suzanne Roy boasted of having converted 9,000 places in unsubsidized private daycares into subsidized places.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116