Large-scale daycare centres and programs do not appear to be improving the educational outcomes of children. Economics professor Pierre Lefebvre of the Université du Québec à Montréal conducted research between 1994 and 2006 on children under five from Quebec and the rest of Canada that showed Quebec’s heavily-subsidized provincial daycare system, which costs parents just $7 per day, is not advancing children’s development as the government claims it does.
In fact, there is a “serious quality problem” asserts Lefebvre. “I would go as far as to say that daycare quality is very low, both in terms of educators’ formation and in terms of the quality of interactions between educators and children,” he told the Toronto Sun.
The study states that, although “the intensity of childcare” and the labour force participation of mothers with young children has increased in Quebec, “the policy has not enhanced school readiness or child early literacy skills in general, with negative significant PPVT scores of children aged five and possibly negative for children of age four.” The PPVT is the Peabody Picture and Vocabulary Test, which was used in the study to measure cognitive skills.
Lefebvre said the low cost of the program “creates strong incentives for families to use long hours of daycare for children at a very young age, which may not be the best mechanism for children development.”
Meanwhile, University of Calgary sociologist Tom Langford warned parents of the disadvantages of the large corporate day care centres which will soon be established in the province. In 2007, the Alberta government removed a restriction which prevented daycare centres larger than 80 children. According to Langford, this will lead to the arrival of new corporate centres with 200 or more children in them, larger than some elementary schools. He said these centres will focus on making a profit for investors rather than giving children the best possible care.