Would Canadian Universal Child Care Pay For Itself If Done Correctly?

One of the biggest hurdles to a parent trying to get ahead financially is the expense that it takes to have someone take care of their children. Childcare not only can provoke anxiety in ensuring that your child is well-cared for when you aren’t around, but it can be an expensive proposition as well. For some industries, finding daycare for your children costs more than it is worth to get up and go to work every morning.


There is a new legislative push in Canada to make childcare a universal system for families. Proponents believe that it will not only make it safer and more heavily regulated, but that it will also help many families economically. They also believe that it is a universal system that is capable of paying for it if fiscally done correctly.

Those who are in favor of the current subsidized system in Quebec are taking issue with opponents who insist that Quebec’s current childcare system is a flawed way to provide care. They also maintain that it provides very little help to families and children. It was a system that was supposed to pay for itself, but there is great debate about whether it does or it doesn’t.

A recently-released Fraser Institute research report examined the facts related to universal childcare in Quebec to see if it actually does benefit families without being detrimental to Quebec’s fiscal budget.

The idea was that subsidized care in Quebec would boost government revenue enough to be self-paying, but the statistics show that simply isn’t the case. A recent report indicates that the daycares are able to recoup only about 40% of their costs when compared to rising incomes and income tax reductions. Childcare in Quebec was supposed to work and be self-sufficient because it was meant to allow women to enter the workforce.

In doing so, their increased production and income tax revenue were supposed to be enough to cover the cost of the universal system. But that isn’t what is happening.

The truth is that although care is now offered, there aren’t as many women taking advantage of it, as expected. Many women are choosing to stay at home anyway if they have the means, and to forego the childcare system. That is leaving everyone at a loss. At the time that the program was initiated in 1997, only 69% of the workforce was held by women. To date, that number has only risen to 76%, which is not enough to make up for the amount that universal childcare costs the state.

There is even a question about whether the childcare system was responsible for the boost in numbers at all. The system was put into place at the same time that the EI change was initiated. So it is difficult to decipher what is responsible for the uptick, as minuscule as it is.

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There are other studies, however, that have different results. The Universite du Quebec à Montreal found that the Quebec system did cover its own costs. When they held everything constant and took out other government expenditures over the same timeframe, they found that the system broke even. In total, the program costs over $1.2 billion, and it has resulted in saving of $2.1 billion in gross revenue.

Taxes in the form of payroll, consumption, and income are all contributing factors to the surplus of the Canadian government. What the study did find positive is that Quebec’s system allowed many low-income families the ability to defer government money and find productive work in society.

Whether or not the system pays for itself, what is clear is that it allows a woman to join the workforce and be a productive member if she chooses, without the worry of having to pay for child care in Winnipeg. Being able to have someone to care for their child with reassurance is what the universal system is all about.

Overall, there is also evidence that the universal care system may benefit the children who use it. Typically focused on lower socioeconomic populations, entering the system earlier allows disadvantaged children to get the special education and services they might not otherwise have gotten. It also helps them to get the boost that might give them a leg up later in life.

Universal childcare financials might be under debate, but the benefit it has for women, families, and children is clear for those who take advantage of it. If it isn’t a drain on the system, then it should be allowed to stand and create happier and healthier families in Quebec. Should it be employed throughout all of Canada?

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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