Daycare and muddled PQ policy denounced by Équipe autonomiste

I don’t get it. The Marois government is pushing for daycare cuts that amount to $56.2 million: $37.9 million in cuts to CPEs (Centres de la petite enfance - early childhood centres), better known as “$7 a day daycare,” and $18.3 million in cuts to funding available for private daycare centres. Yet, according to its electoral platform and during the last election campaign, the Parti québécois was clamouring for “One child, one daycare space: creation of 15,000 new $7 spaces.” Was this just another election promise to sucker in voters?

Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports has announced that pre-kindergarten will be extended to 4 year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. I object to such a decision for several reasons. First, we’re already saddled with a welter of competing and confusing choices that will create injustices. Why do we have daycare centres, kindergartens, and early childhood centres? Why not combine them all into one system? And what about the children who’ll have the privilege of beginning school earlier? They’ll eventually come to a class where they’ll have to sit and wait while the others catch up—those who haven’t gone to kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, early childhood centres, and so on. Such is our current system.

As its third value, Équipe autonomiste promotes an alternative: supporting the family unit and helping families take care of their children. We also want to limit the government’s role. We want a level playing field without such injustices as providing subsidized daycare to a woman who works on a regular schedule but not to a nurse who works at night. Équipe autonomiste wishes to help families by encouraging small and medium-sized businesses and by helping them start up if need be. Équipe autonomiste has talked about giving parents a free hand and providing them with a tax deduction per child. Here is one of our proposals, now under study:

Proposal 33: Reform funding of CPEs and family-based child care.
“Do away with the system of directly funding CPEs and administration by CPEs of funding for child daycare centres. Offer financial assistance directly to parents by reducing their salary deductions. A parent who wishes to stay home may receive a reimbursement only if the other parent is working and if the parent living at home is not a welfare recipient. This program will enable all parents to use, or not use, the services of a child daycare centre of their choice, at all times. Verification of service quality will continue to be the government’s responsibility.”

School initially began at 6 years of age because children are more self-reliant at that age and their minds are ready for such education. Below 6 years of age, they’re less ready. There’s also the matter of busing to and from school, which is trickier at younger ages. No, I’m not ready to sign on to this choice of the Parti québécois.