MONTREAL—Liberal leader Jean Charest pledged to increase the cost of Quebec’s generous daycare program to nearly $8 per day if his government is re-elected on Sept. 4.

Mirroring the language of the contentious tuition increase passed into legislation earlier in the 2012 parliamentary session, the increase from $7 per day to $7.73 would be phased in over five years at nearly the rate of inflation.

Calling on parents to pay their “fair share,” the premier deemed the increase to be “reasonable.”

First introduced in 1997 by the Parti Quebecois, the then $5-a-day daycare system has only undergone one hike, to its present $7 by the Charest Liberals in 2004. Targeted during the Alberta provincial election has a symbol of Quebec’s welfare excess, the self-sufficient system was defended for actually returning a profit to the provincial government.

Along with his announcement to charge parents more, Charest revealed on Sunday that the hike would be accompanied by a tax credit to help businesses open more daycare spaces. Under the credit, 50 per cent of the costs of running a daycare would be tax deductible.

The Liberals hope that the new tax measures will lead to the creation of 3,200 new spaces.

—with files from The Canadian Press.