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

‘Summer from hell’: vandals rob community garden following devastating wildfire season

The community rallied to keep the Health Minds Community Garden open in Fort St. James

College of New Caledonia offers new automotive glass technician program

The program is offered mainly online, allowing more students to take part from across the north

Decision on Burns Lake’s workforce camp “pending very soon”: Coastal GasLink

Meetings to discuss new camp location postponed due to wildfire situation

B.C. parents leery of HPV cervical cancer vaccine

Provincial registration uptake among lowest in Canada

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read