children playing

How does Quebec’s universal daycare work, and what can the national $10-a-day programs learn from it?

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
The rest of Canada will soon launch social services of a kind that Quebeckers have been fine-tuning for more than 20 years. While experts there see the benefits, they also have concerns about getting things to work overnight
Andrew-Gee, Eric
Publication Date: 
16 Apr 2022


Mathieu Lacombe has been Quebec’s Minister of Families, responsible for the province’s huge network of daycares, since 2018 – more than three years now. So he sounds a little surprised to admit that, after all this time, none of his counterparts in other provinces have asked to meet him.

The rest of the country is about to embark on an experiment that Mr. Lacombe knows a little bit about. The federal government’s $10-a-day daycare program, which every province has now signed on to, is based on Quebec’s model of heavy subsidies, low fees and theoretically universal access. When it comes to child care, the rest of Canada is about to look a lot more like la belle province.

The last two decades of daycare policy in the province offer many lessons about childhood development, women in the work force, data collection and quality of care – many of them surprising, and some of them likely to reshape Canadian society in the coming years.