Québec solidaire has promised, if elected, to create “at least” 37,000 spaces in daycare centers (CPEs) and to convert as many private daycare centers as possible.
When asked whether this number is enough to offer a spot for every child, the party leader avoided answering the question directly, but insisted that the figure of 37,000 is firm.
“Me, I’m tired of politicians promising spaces and then not building them and not funding them,” said Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
When asked again, Nadeau-Dubois said it’s difficult to get an accurate picture of how many spaces need to be filled.
He accused the Legault government of “creative bookkeeping” when it comes to the waiting list.
“It’s no longer simple to know what the needs are,” he said.
In a press release, Québec solidaire said the childcare waiting list grew from 42,000 to 52,000 spaces during Legault’s mandate.
The Families Ministry, for its part, estimates that 34,000 children are waiting for a daycare spot in Quebec.
The ministry recently lowered its estimate from 52,000 to 34,000. This change was made to account for the fact that 18,000 of the children on the waiting list do not currently need a space because their parent is on parental leave.
A portion of the spaces created will be “micro-CPEs,” Québec solidaire said. This model would establish smaller daycare centres with eight to 20 spaces to help cover less densely populated communities.
The model would also offer a more attractive work environment for recruiting staff, according to the party.
À toutes les familles qui ont des problèmes à trouver une place en garderie pour leur enfant, je veux dire ceci: on vous voit, on vous entend. @QuebecSolidaire a une équipe qui comprend vos besoins et qui a les solutions pour y répondre.
— Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (@GNadeauDubois)
September 3, 2022
Reacting to the announcement, Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon expressed concern that introducing micro-CPEs would disadvantage these regions, which are “too often underfunded or forgotten.”
“Too often, the regions find themselves with a fraction of the services that are available in the major centers,” he said.
But Nadeau-Dubois believes the introduction of smaller daycares is a more flexible and faster approach. He said it would allow daycare spots to be created in existing spaces such as colleges or businesses.
Nadeau-Dubois made the announcement Saturday in Rimouski accompanied by local candidate Carol-Ann Kack and candidate for the neighbouring riding of Rivière-du-Loup-Témiscouata, Myriam Lapointe-Gagnon.
Lapointe-Gagnon, who founded the movement Ma place au travail, is presented by Québec solidaire as a star candidate and an important supporter of its childcare policy.
The Solidaire candidate says she lacks confidence in current Families Minister Mathieu Lacombe.
“If I had confidence in this minister, that he had done what he said he would do, I would not be here today. It’s because we have the impression that Quebec families are being fooled a little bit, by always being told that we will create 5,000, 13,000, 8,000, 10,000 new places,” she said
This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on Sept. 3, 2022.