Paving the Way for Societal Changes with Universal Childcare


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Silhouettes of young children at play.

Colleen McMenamin, Staff Writer

In Quebec, childcare is established as a critical infrastructure, which means that now it is given adequate funding similar to roads, schools, or energy needs. Critical infrastructure is defined as an asset that is essential for a functioning society and working economy, so why would Quebec newly include child care in this category? Japan, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Australia have all implemented similar ideas into their governments and the Canadian province is now following suit. These countries have all seen similar success rates after federally funding child care both economically and socially. 

Although implementing this is an extremely ambitious plan for any country or state, universal childcare would greatly benefit any country economically. For many families, once money gets tight, childcare is the first to go. A study showed that a “one percentage point drop in a state’s unemployment rate was associated with a 2-3 percent decrease in employment in the childcare industry”. This has ultimately led to the closing of an estimated 20,000 childcare facilities, causing many to lose jobs in an already sluggish economy. In New Jersey alone, the childcare industry supports an estimated 65,300 full-time jobs. Having state-funded childcare would also allow for an easier transition back into the workforce for the 400,000 stay-at-home parents with children under the age of 6, earning an estimated $7.5 billion and contributing $400 million to taxes in one year. 

Not only has economic growth been a large factor in universal childcare, but also social benefits for the children have also been raised. Childcare, in general, allows for early socialization, growing the child’s emotional and social skills for a young age; it acts as an early educational environment and lays the groundwork for more complex learning in the future. For example, based on a study, “children who receive a preschool education are less likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, and even become incarcerated as adults.” Allowing early education for all could help close an educational gap between income differences in families.

In Quebec, currently, the federal government just proposed an investment of $30 billion over only five years to lower the cost of $10 a day per child- although this federal plan specifically is very ambitious Quebec continues demonstrating “why” and hopefully will continue to in the future.