The Quebec Liberal Party said it plans to table a bill to improve access to daycare services in the province.
Leader Dominique Anglade made the announcement at the party’s pre-sessional caucus on Tuesday, being held in Orford in the Eastern Townships.
While access to daycares is already a right under Quebec law, Anglade stressed that it isn’t reflected in terms of how resources are organized and allocated.
“The reality today is that not everyone has access to daycare services,” she said, “and when they do, it’s not the same kind of service in terms of quality or price across the province.”
Lack of access to daycare is not a new problem in the province. The waitlist is currently at an all-time high, with more than 50,000 children waiting for a spot.
The situation, Anglade said, is unacceptable.
She compared the situation to a parent being told their child, who is at the age to start school, won’t be able to attend and instead will be placed on a waitlist because there are no spots available.
“We don’t do this when it comes to education, when it comes to primary school. Why should we accept this when it comes to daycare services?” Anglade said, insisting the system needs to be fair and equitable for all.
Her party is proposing a $1.2-billion plan to be rolled out over five years.
The proposed plan includes converting 67,000 non-subsidized day care spots into subsidized spots so that every parent pays the same price, prioritizing the creation of daycare spots in workplace settings and for newborns up to 18 months.
To attract more staff, Anlgade said that all daycare educators’ salaries should be increased with a separate pay scale for those with technical or university training in early childhood studies.
The Quebec federation of early childhood workers (FIPEQ-CSQ) welcomed the Liberal party’s announcement.
“It is a welcome change,” said FIPEQ president Valérie Grenon in a press release. “There is nothing that should prevent Quebec from finally offering better working conditions and a place for each child.”
Meanwhile, as the fall session at the National Assembly gets set to resume, Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said the number one priority should be climate change, while Premier François Legault argued it should be health care.
Legault even reiterated calls for the federal government to increase health care transfer payments to the provinces.
— with files from Global’s Olivia O’Malley and The Canadian Press