Universal Daycare Policies Lack Universal Support



January 22, 2019

OTTAWA, ON – A diverse coalition of 13 unaffiliated academics, policy researchers, and child care practitioners has jointly signed A Positive Vision for Child Care Policy across Canada, a brand new policy paper by think tank Cardus. In it, the signatories note they “share agreement in rejecting so-called universal systems put forward by government” and welcome “robust discussion and exploration of a diversity of public policy options” for child care.

“Support for universal daycare systems is anything but universal,” says Andrea Mrozek, a Cardus program director and A Positive Vision for Child Care signatory. “A growing number of folks recognize the social and economic pitfalls of universal systems like Quebec’s, which B.C. and Alberta are seeking to imitate. Governments need to re-examine their assumptions about so-called universal child care given the clear evidence that these systems fail to provide high-quality or sustainable child care.”

Other signatories include Brenda Burns, President – Child Care Providers Resource Network of Ottawa-Carleton; Samuel Hammond, Director of Poverty and Welfare Policy – Niskanen Center; Heidi Higgins, Co-Founder – Coalition of Independent Child Care Providers of Ontario; Dr. Lydia Miljan, Professor – University of Windsor; and Helen Ward, President – Kids First Parents Association.

Drawing on international and domestic research on child care policy, A Positive Vision for Child Care provides an evidence-based case against universal daycare systems as a high-quality, sustainable policy option. Instead, the paper lays out six principles for great child care policy:

CHOICE: Accommodation of diverse types of care, not a top-down, one-size-fits-all system.

FUNDING NEUTRALITY: Governments shouldn’t favour one type of care over another parents may choose.

QUALITY: Care settings should be subject to simple, consistent, and easily understood and enforced standards.

DIVERSITY: Working together, we can allow for a diversity of child care options to flourish.

PARENT ACCOUNTABILITY: Funding parents instead of care providers restores power to families.

BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD: The best child care policy prioritizes children’s well-being.

“Our positive vision recognizes that child care is the care of a child, no matter who provides the care,” says Mrozek. “All levels of government should simply prioritize children’s well-being in their child care policies, while staying neutral on the type of child care parents choose.”

Access A Positive Vision for Child Care Policy across Canada by clicking here.

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Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus - Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.