September 9, 2013

OTTAWA - Quebecers have differing preferences on child care than the rest of Canadians, according to a new study by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC).

Although the study shows 76 per cent of Canadians believe children under six are best raised by a parent in the home, that figure drops to 70 per cent for Quebecers, the lowest level in Canada.

And while 55 per cent of Canadians prefer to have children under six looked after by a relative or other caregiver if a parent is not available, only 34 per cent of Quebecers would.

The IMFC study says among the reasons for these differences in opinion could be Quebec's heavily subsidized institutionalized daycare. The program, created in 1997, now charges $7 per day.

After implementation, numbers of children in centre-based care in Quebec shot up from fewer than 20 per cent to almost 55 per cent as of 2006.

"It is likely that Quebecers have 'chosen' the government subsidized child care in some part because it is now the only affordable option," the IMFC says.

"Prior to 1997, Quebec had a range of family benefits, which were removed in order to pay for the provincial daycare plan."


The study notes that state-subsidized childcare is expensive, forcing Quebec to raise funds through higher taxes.

"Ironically, the low cost of daycare to parents in Quebec may create barriers to making other family choices," the study says. "Government-funded daycare systems act as a monopoly, eradicating other childcare options.

Another reason Quebecers might have differing views on this matter may be the result of the higher rate of cohabiting couples in the province, the study says. In Quebec 37 per cent of couples live common-law as opposed to about 20 per cent in the rest of Canada.

The study shows support for parental care is nine per cent lower among cohabiting couples than it is among married couples.