Quebec to introduce sliding scale for daycare fees in 2015
Published Thursday, November 20, 2014 10:59AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 20, 2014 6:54PM EST
The provincial government has confirmed a sliding scale of payments for daycares will be in place for the beginning of 2015, with fees being indexed starting in January 2016.
Families will continue to pay $7.30 per day per child in public and subsidized daycares, but there will be an additional contribution based on their gross income when they file their taxes for 2015.
Family Minister Francine Charbonneau said in the National Assembly Thursday morning that the sliding scale fees will be $7.30 per child per day for parents who earn less than $50,000 per year, rising to $20 per child for families that earn more than $150,000.
The new fees will come into effect Jan. 1 2015. Parents would not see the exact impact of the fee increase until they complete their tax returns for 2015 the following year.
The Parti Quebecois, which created the fixed-price CPE system in 1997, called the hikes outrageous.
"Today this is the message they are sending: People of Quebec we have understood you and PAF! we're deciding to increase daycare fees based on your salary," said Families Critic Mathieu Traversy.
Hike amounts to 'taxing the children'
Mother Florence Jean-Jacobs says she can't find a spot in subsidized for her daughter.
The Liberals say they are looking to add 6,000 spots as soon as possible, but Jean-Jacobs doesn't like the way they’re doing it.
“It's disappointing because the idea of the system was supposed to be universal and by making it based on income we're kind of saying it's a parent’s job to pay a program that was supposed to benefit the whole of society,” she said.
The reform will affect more than 188,000 Quebec households.
“We're taxing the children as if they're services or goods that you buy in a store,” said Gina Gasparini, president of the Quebec Public Daycare Association.
But mother Emilie O’Brien said she believes the cost is still manageable.
“It's still amazing compared to what the rest of Canada is experiencing,” she said.
Breaking a promise
Critics say the decision amounts to the Liberal party breaking a platform promise to not raise taxes higher than the rate of inflation
"When the Parti Quebecois wanted to raise the fees from $7 to $8 and then to $9, Mr. Couillard went really out of his way to say, my god this is going to be a tariff shock and we can't accept that, we can't afford that and then they just said we're going to index," said Jean Lapierre.
"That was the promise in their platform. Now, I mean, we are going much over that indexation, and the middle class is going to be directly affected by this."
Premier Philippe Couillard said he realizes he's breaking his election promise, but that the budget deficit leaves him no choice but to raise daycare fees for some parents.
“There's no way we can sustain such a program in its current state only with indexation," he said, adding the sliding scalre actually shields low- and middle income families.
"Sixty per cent of families in Quebec will pay less than nince bucks a day. That's true social justice," Couillard said.
Political analyst Don Macpherson said the real shock for parents will likely come around tax time.
"If you take the increases by themselves, and you compare them to the cost of daycare elsewhere, they're not that exorbitant on a sort of day-by-day basis," said Macpherson.
"But when it's added up and you get the bill out of a sudden at tax time, well it's really going to hurt."
For the past decade parents have paid $7/day, per child, for a spot in daycare facilities across the province. That price rose 30 cents on Oct. 1, 2014, the first price increase in ten years.
Hints for months
The idea of a sliding scale for daycare fees was first hinted by Couillard in May, and in recent months Charbonneau confirmed with ever-increasing certainty that the idea would be implemented.
Charbonneau justified the changes by saying that nearly two decades after the CPE program was created there is still a lengthy backlog of parents hoping to find an inexpensive manner of caring for their children.
But the idea has been met with protest, with several large demonstrations taking place involving families and daycare owners.
Quebec expects to recoup just over $300 million a year from the measure. And though the deficit is calculated at $3.2 billion, Couillard says it's worth it
“Change is always difficult. I would blame myself after four years if I shied away from difficult decisions,” he said.
|Household Income||Total Fee|
|Up to $50,000||$7.30|
|$150,000 and more||$20|