B.C. Finance Minister Carole James visits a Victoria daycare on the eve of her first budget, allocating $1 billion over three years to expand child care, Feb. 19, 2018. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Quebec daycare subsidies offer warning for B.C., study says

Over-55 women more likely to join paid workforce than young mothers

B.C. is following in the footsteps of Quebec 20 years ago, rolling out a subsidized daycare program to help mothers get back into the paid workforce.

A new study by the Fraser Institute compares the Quebec experience to B.C., where the new NDP government has embarked on a 10-year plan to provide universal daycare. Using Statistics Canada and other data, it finds that the employment and other benefits of subsidizing child care may not be what the B.C. government expects.

Quebec established $5-a-day universal daycare in 1997, when the employment rate for mothers was just under 70 per cent. That has risen to 83.1 per cent by 2017. But B.C. is starting with a maternal employment rate of 78.8 per cent, so the room for employment growth is substantially less in B.C., the study concludes.

Increased workforce participation was the basis for the B.C. NDP’s promise in its 2017 election platform that heavily subsidized daycare would pay for itself over the long term, through greater income tax revenue to the province.

Statistics Canada data show that in the 20 years of the Quebec program, employment among women aged 55 and over rose almost twice as much as employment by women of child-rearing age, 25 to 44.

The study also found greater employment increase among women 25-44 in Atlantic Canada, which did not have a subsidized daycare program. That may have been due to the federal Conservative government’s tightening of Employment Insurance rules in the region, a policy reversed by the Justin Trudeau government.

Finance Minister Carole James announced in her February budget that B.C. is committing $1 billion over the next three years, to provide 22,000 new licensed daycare spaces and add more training spaces for early childhood educators.

RELATED: New spaces a step to universal child care

The bulk of the B.C. NDP commitment, $630 million, is to subsidize parents and licensed daycare providers. For parents, the per-child subsidy ranges from $330 to $1,250 per month, reducing as income rises and falling to zero for households with a gross income of $111,000 per year.

“Policymakers in B.C. should heed Quebec’s warning, and instead consider providing resources directly to families to help cover the costs of whatever individual approach to daycare works best for them,” said Vincent Geloso, a Fraser Institute researcher and author of the study, Subsidized daycare – What British Columbians can learn from Quebec’s 20-year experiment.

Just Posted

Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations open new RV Park

Both nations excited about new economic venture

Victoria High School students find themselves in a ‘Hairy’ situation

Vic High drama students performing modern version of Broadway musical ‘Hair’

Ready for day two at the Home Expo

One exhibitor, Atlas Junk Removal, uses their trucks for a good cause

Oak Bay beach eatery looks to reward more volunteers

The Kiwanis Tea Room at Willows Beach opens April 28

VIDEO: Moose found licking salt off B.C. man’s pickup truck

Tab Baker was in his garage in Prince George when the small moose gave his truck a clean

Spring Home Show this weekend in Colwood

West Shore Parks and Recreation will be transformed to showcase everything home related

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Dinosaurs taking centre stage at National Geographic event

NatGeo Live series finale May 2 at the Royal features renowned paleontologist

UPDATED: 1 person dead after highway crash in Nanoose Bay

Accident happened just before 4 p.m. near Hillview Road

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Most Read