12 Flawed Child Care Statements by the Fraser Institute:
Summary of Rebuttal from Quebec Economist Pierre Fortin
Fortin examines the 12 statements made by the Fraser Institute (FI) in a recent assessment of Quebec’s child care program. Fortin finds their underlying arguments are so flawed that the publication is “an affront to the standards promised by the Fraser Institute’s website” and “a policy analysis disaster.”
Fortin’s critique of the FI report incorporates a broad range of up-to-date, peer-reviewed research and public reports that confirm the multiple benefits of Quebec’s child care system to date. He also identifies areas requiring ongoing policy attention. Specifically, the Quebec child care system:
- “… Had a large, significant and persistent impact on the labour supply of mothers … comparable to ... similar comprehensive reforms in countries such as Norway, Spain and Germany.” These findings were confirmed by three teams of labour economists, who, working independently, produced peer-reviewed studies published in reputable scientific journals. Also, there has been no meaningful reduction in fathers’ labour force participation.
- Provides economic benefits that outweigh the system costs, when all relevant impacts are considered. The public costs are similar to the OECD average (0.6% of GDP), yet below the international recommendation of 1% of GDP.
- Has achieved good quality programming in the early childhood centres (called CPE in French) which serve 1/3 of children. CPEs “deliver positive cognitive, health and behavioural results” and reduce “vulnerability of children of all income classes. These standards need to be extended to the rest of the system (licensed family-based caregivers and for-profit centres). Providing consistently high quality programs across the system would improve the outcomes for children in all types of care. It would also address the fact that while there is no wait time for a child care space in general, there are waiting lists for CPEs.
- Could use its surplus funds (net economic benefits) to strengthen quality and reach even more low-income families. Including low-income families in child care programs is challenging as they are less likely to be in the workforce and, when they are working, to use child care programs. But trying to target only disadvantaged families would be less effective and more costly overall. A universal approach generates surplus funds that can be used to strengthen quality and reach disadvantaged families at no net public cost.
Fortin’s rebuttal of the FI’s criticism of the Quebec child care system is consistent with the evidence that supports the $10aDay Plan. While the development of the $10aDay Plan was informed by lessons learned in Quebec and elsewhere, it is a made-in-BC model that addresses important policy and financial considerations. Specifically, the economic analyses of the Plan are conservative in their assumptions about increased mother’s labour force participation. The $10aDay Plan costing also includes funds to achieve consistent high quality across the system for all children, including those with additional support needs, and prioritizes access for low-income families by charging no user fees for families earning under $40,000 a year.