Research shows that parents in Quebec, Canada’s only province with a “universal” system, have poorer health, poorer (parental) relationships, and “less consistent parenting.”
The Quebec model incorporates state-run centres and home-based child care funded by the government, along with subsidies for parents using private care, resulting in similar user costs for parents. Researchers Baker, Gruber, and Milligan found that “the new (Quebec) childcare program led to more hostile, less consistent parenting, worse parental health, and lower-quality parental relationships.”1 Subsequent research showed changes in parenting behaviours, to the detriment of children, particularly girls. Lehrer and Kottelenberg write, “In general, families with girls increasingly experience worse home environments. . . . Following the introduction of subsidized child care, on average, girls face significantly lower levels of parent consistency and lower levels of positive interactions with their parents relative to boys.”2
Child care is the care of a child, no matter who does it, and acknowledging this important definition puts parents in the driver’s seat of their children’s care. Given the primary role that parents play in caring for their child(ren), favouring a system that correlates with poorer parenting and parental relationships is counterproductive. Should the federal government follow the Quebec model, when peer-reviewed research shows it correlates with negative outcomes for parents?