The federal government will invest $6 billion in Quebec over the next five years to add daycare spaces and improve working conditions for educators.
The announcement was made at a park in the city’s Hochelaga district, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alongside Quebec Premier François Legault.
Legault said a significant portion of the $6 billion will go toward “completing” the province’s child-care network, and that the money is “without conditions.” He added that the province already spends $2.7 billion a year on its child-care system.
“What that means is that Quebec will receive financing to continue developing its network,” Legault said. “We also have a deal that says after the year 2026, (Ottawa) will continue to help finance (the network).”
Legault said since the program exists already, the federal money will be used to build more daycare centres and add more spaces at existing ones for children under the age of 6. The money will also go toward improving working conditions and salaries for daycare workers.
Legault called the deal with Ottawa “asymmetric,” meaning that while the federal government imposed certain conditions on the money it gave to other provinces for child care, Quebec has no such conditions.
The announcement comes at a time when the Quebec network of child-care services is going through a major crisis, grappling with a shortage of places, the recent closure of many family daycares and a worrying lack of child-care workers. The waiting list for a daycare spot has grown to an unprecedented 50,000 names.
Legault said the shortage in the daycare system is in fact roughly 37,000 spaces. Some parents put their names on the lists of several daycare centres. The number of new spaces that will be created will be announced in the coming weeks.
Legault said the agreement “respects the jurisdiction of Quebec,” adding that it’s a “beautiful victory for Quebec families.”