QUEBEC CITY -- The Official Opposition at Quebec's National Assembly is proposing up to $9,000 in bonuses over three years to address part of the shortage of child care spaces.

The Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) is suggesting a $36-million-a-year solution to CAQ Family Minister Mathieu Lacombe, who has been trying for months to meet the demand and complaining about delays.

The PLQ believes that its proposal could quickly open at least 12,000 additional spaces.

The Liberals are thus echoing the Ma Place au travail movement, a group of 51,000 parents waiting for a place for their child.

"We are experiencing an unprecedented crisis," said Liberal Family Critic Marc Tanguay in an interview with The Canadian Press on Sunday. "The profession is not valued and conditions are difficult, financially speaking."


The Liberals recommend first consolidating and increasing family daycare services.

The party suggests paying a new $3,000 bonus for each new family daycare service to encourage the opening of additional spaces. As many as 1,500 family child care centres have closed since 2020.

The bonus would allow new child care providers to finance home improvements, purchase equipment and toys, etc.

If 2,000 new applicants volunteer and each opens six spaces, that would make 12,000 spaces available. The PLQ argues that the 12,000 spaces are already budgeted for in the ministry's budgets, but are not being used.

To consolidate the existing network of 12,000 family daycare services (RSGs), the Liberals suggest granting them the $3,000 bonus per year for three years.

"We want to stop the hemorrhaging, to stop their mass departure, and that means financial conditions. We need to give them an incentive longer than a year, predictability, stability. That way, you commit to a longer-term perspective," said Tanguay.

The new child care centre that received the $3,000 financial incentive for its opening, Tanguay added, would be eligible for the other $3,000 incentive once it was up and running.

WHY $3,000?

The $3,000 figure is based on the fact that family child care providers earn about $30,000 per year.

The suggested bonus, therefore, corresponds to an additional 10 per cent.

However, Tanguay argues that this is a minimum and that the minister could well propose a more attractive incentive.

"If 12,000 child care centres receive $3,000 a year in incentives, that's equivalent to $36 million a year, which respects the ability of Quebecers to pay," Tanguay said.

Finally, the Liberal spokesperson argues that his proposal is simple and can be implemented quickly, in a few weeks, compared to the opening of an Early Childhood Centre (ECC), which takes an average of 36 months.

As a result, Tanguay argues that the PLQ's solution is ideal in many regions with shortages such as the Gaspe and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean.

"We've had municipal officials from all over Quebec say, 'Help us, we're able to target people who could open family daycares, to support them,'" concluded Tanguay.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2021.