Paying for day care
Up until recently, many may have thought Quebec’s public program of child day care sounded close to nirvana.
The current rate for provincially-run day care was $7.30 per child. Not per hour, Per day. Contrast that with average costs that range (depending on the age of the child) from $8,000 to nearly $10,000 per child per year in the North Country. That’s detailed by county in this break-down for New York State from Syracus.com.
So, back to La belle province. Faced with a worse-than-expected provincial deficit, Premier Philippe Couillard has decided higher-income families should pay more. As reported by CBC:
“This is the true definition of social justice. Actually, I’m very proud that we’ve done this, because it would have been too easy to say, ‘Let’s abolish the program or charge $25 or $30 for everyone,’” Couillard said.
Under the new formula, when families file tax returns a higher sliding scale will kick in the form of an additional assessment. Those earning less than $55K will see no hike. For those at the upper limit of income over $150K the actual cost will hit $20 per day, per child.
That’s still the best deal in Canada. And it certainly looks like a steal to U.S. parents. But for some Quebecers, it sounds like moving the goalpost, of promises betrayed. Here’s some of the negative reaction, as reported by the Montréal Gazette:
Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Françoise David accused Couillard of trying to undermine Quebec’s welfare model to save the government money.
“Quebec has said daycare services are as essential as school, as health,” she said. “It’s a model based on social solidarity, and that’s what the government is in the process of destroying.”
In an interview with TV network LCN on Thursday evening, Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault accused the premier of “lying to the public.”
“We could even ask if he would have been elected had he told the truth,” he said.
There’s a persistent paradox surrounding child care. It’s hard to argue that safe, nurturing care for the very young is invaluable. But when it comes to paying for day care, demand typically exceeds supply. Once slots are found, the cost feels high for the parent(s). Yet the pay usually amounts to very little for front-line day care workers, who are overwhelmingly female. (“Women’s work” typically being deemed less valuable in the free-market pecking order.)
This doesn’t even speak to long-standing debate on daycare verses home care. This 2006 study on Quebec’s public day care program, for example, presents mixed results, as discussed in this Maclean’s Magazine article.
Income stagnation has made it more and more difficult to support a family on one salary. And single parents don’t have that option at all. For all sorts of reasons, the rest of Canada and the U.S. seem highly unlikely to follow the Quebec model, which may be more than even Quebec can easily afford.
So how should this need be met? And who should foot that bill?
Take a two-parent family with two kids. If the both parents work, then the family has to pay $16,000-20,000 in child care (a 40-hr a week minimum wage job translates in NYS to about $16,700 BEFORE TAXES). So one minimum wage job’s salary would be entirely devoted to child care. If the parents are more highly educated, they will (err, may) get paid more but that’s likely going to be offset with big student loan payments. If one parent stays home, then they pay no child care but lose the salary, so it’s a wash. Either way, one salary has to pay for everything: food, transportation, housing, clothing, power. Maybe this model worked in the 50s where there were good union jobs and college grads weren’t annhilated with crushing debt. But I’m not sure how anyone can afford having kids today. But I guess that’s when you get when *both* major political parties sell out to corporate interests. No one other than parties people won’t vote for represent people who have to work for a living.
That’s government sponsored socialism for you: everyone’s equal until the bill comes due, then the “rich” pay more. As far as minimum wage jobs and crushing student loans, people accept those jobs and take those loans voluntarily. Nobody is forcing them and nobody else should have to pay on account of them.
Forgot to say that having children is a voluntary activity as well.
Yup. Higher education is voluntary so if you have gargantuan college debt, it’s your fault. But if you don’t get a college degree and get stuck in a minimum wage type job, that’s your fault too. God bless America.
There are many paths to a degree that don’t involve huge debt and many living wage jobs with benefits for people who don’t have degrees. The problem is, you have to go out and find them and then keep them. They aren’t handed out. One may also have to make hard choices about one’s life. It ain’t easy but it is possible.
You say “Government sponsored socialism” like it’s a bad thing…
The bad part is the presumption that people don’t have to be responsible for their actions.
The Quebec program must be heavily subsidized and the rates discussed amount to a co-pay. Even at the new higher rates it seems like a bargain. Lots of folks across the economic spectrum would benefit from a similar program here in NNY. And the social benefit for everyone of having children well cared for is difficult to put a price on.
It’s always difficult to put a price on something unless you’re the one paying for it.