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A Diverse Landscape: Independent Schools in Canada

This study is the first of its kind to offer a national survey of independent schools in Canada. It seeks to address the persistent myth that independent schools are of one dominant type serving a single sort of family. Contrary to the common caricature that they are enclaves for the urban elite, independent schools parents come in a wide variety of types and serve many educational preferences. They address diverse religious preferences, pedagogical variations, and special needs.

Using school-level data from each provincial ministry of education, this study builds a national picture of the variety of independent schools in Canada.

Although a recent study found that the share of students enrolled in independent schools in Canada is increasing while the share enrolled in gov­ernment schools is in decline (Van Pelt et al., 2015), it did not examine enrol­ments in different types of independent schools.

In 2013/14, Canada’s ten provinces were home to 1,935 independ­ent schools. They enrolled 368,717 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, equivalent to 6.8 percent of total enrolments in independent and govern­ment schools in Canada’s ten provinces. Their enrolment distribution roughly matched the population distribution across the country, as a third attended independent schools in Quebec (33.4 percent), almost a third in Ontario (31.4 percent), a fifth (20.4 percent) in British Columbia, and 7.6 percent in Alberta.

Although Canada is overwhelmingly an urban society (over 80 per­cent of the population lives in urban areas), 37.1 percent of all independent schools were located outside of large urban areas. 22.1 percent were in rural areas and 15 percent in small or medium-sized centres.

Almost half (48.6 percent) of independent schools in Canada had a reli­gious orientation. Almost a third of all independent schools were Christian non-Catholic (30.1 percent), 8.4 percent were Catholic, 4.9 percent Islamic, and 4.5 percent Jewish. Together, religious independent schools enrolled 48.3 percent of all independent school students. Of these 178,119 students, 45.2 percent attended Christian non-Catholic schools, 31.6 percent independent Catholic schools, 10.8 percent Jewish schools, 9.1 Islamic schools, and 3.3 percent attended schools defined by other religions.

A total of 581 schools (30 percent of independent schools) were classified as specialty schools. These declared a special emphasis in the curricu­lum (e.g., arts, athletics, language, or science/technology/engineering/math), distinct approaches to teaching and learning (e.g., Montessori or Waldorf), or an emphasis on serving specific student populations (e.g., students with special needs or distributed learners). In 2013/14, specialty schools enrolled 27 percent of all independent school students in Canada (99,614 students).

Rigid typecasting of independent schools is more myth than reality. In Canada, the lingering stereotypes are not reflective of the landscape.

Perhaps surprisingly, independent schools most evidently matching the stereotypical image of the traditional type of private school are considerably less common than might be anticipated. When membership in the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools was used as a proxy for such schools, they constituted only 90 independent schools (4.7 percent) and enrolled just 12.1 percent of all students attending independent schools in 2013/14.

In terms of grade-level variation, approximately two-fifths of all independent schools were elementary-only (44.3 percent), two-fifths (37.3 percent) secondary-only, and a fifth (18.4 percent) combined elementary and secondary grades.

In terms of variation in school size, while 65 percent of independent schools had fewer than 150 students, almost half of independent school students (47.2 percent) attended schools with over 500 students.

The funding status of independent schools varies across Canada, in accordance with whether the province offers partial government funding for independent schools (as is the case in five of the provinces). In all, at least 60.6 percent of independent schools in Canada receive no government funding. Considered another way, government funding is not received for at least 41.4 percent of all students enrolled in independent schools in Canada.

The evidence examined in this study leads to a clear finding. Rigid typecasting of independent schools is more myth than reality. In Canada, the lingering stereotypes are not reflective of the landscape. Independent schools are diverse in their religious orientations and their academic emphases. A disproportionate number are located outside of urban centres. They span a diversity of sizes and grade levels. Their funding statuses vary, even in the five provinces where the provincial governments offer some support.

In all, the parents of over 368,000 students—one of every fifteen stu­dents in Canada—are sending their children to one of the 1,935 independent, non-government schools in the country, and the picture is clear. They are choosing schools that differ in many ways from one another, the vast majority of which do not conform to the prevailing caricature that private schools in Canada are exclusive enclaves serving only the wealthy urban elite.

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Annual Survey of Mining Companies: 2015

This report presents the results of the Fraser Institute’s 2015 annual survey of mining and exploration companies. The survey is an attempt to assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulatory uncertainty affect exploration investment. The survey was circulated electronically to over 3,800 individuals between September 15th and November 27th, 2015. Survey responses have been tallied to rank provinces, states, and countries according to the extent that public policy factors encourage or discourage investment.

A total of 449 responses were received for the survey, providing sufficient data to evaluate 109 jurisdictions. By way of comparison, 122 jurisdictions were evaluated in 2014, 112 in 2013, 96 in 2012/2013, and 93 in 2011/2012.

The Investment Attractiveness Index takes both mineral and policy perception into consideration

An overall Investment Attractiveness Index is constructed by combining the Best Practices Mineral Potential index, which rates regions based on their geologic attractiveness, and the Policy Perception Index, a composite index that measures the effects of government policy on attitudes toward exploration investment. While it is useful to measure the attractiveness of a jurisdiction based on policy factors such as onerous regulations, taxation levels, the quality of infrastructure, and the other policy related questions that respondents answered, the Policy Perception Index alone does not recognize the fact that investment decisions are often sizably based on the pure mineral potential of a jurisdiction. Indeed, respondents consistently indicate that roughly only 40 percent of their investment decision is determined by policy factors.

The top

The top jurisdiction in the world for investment based on the Investment Attractiveness Index is Western Australia, which moved up to first from fourth in 2014. Saskatchewan remained in second place this year. Nevada dropped to third, after Western Australia displaced it as the most attractive jurisdiction in the world. Ireland moved up 10 spots into fourth place. Rounding out the top ten are Finland, Alaska, Northern Territory, Quebec, Utah, and South Australia.

The bottom

When considering both policy and mineral potential in the Investment Attractiveness Index, the Argentinian province of La Rioja ranks as the least attractive jurisdiction in the world for investment. La Rioja replaced Venezuela as the least attractive jurisdiction in the world. The complete list of bottom 10 jurisdictions (beginning with the worst) are La Rioja, Venezuela, Honduras, Greece, Solomon Islands, Chubut, Guinea (Conakry), Kenya, Mendoza, and Rio Negro.

Policy Perception Index: A “report card” to governments on the attractiveness of their mining policies

While geologic and economic considerations are important factors in mineral exploration, a region’s policy climate is also an important investment consideration. The Policy Perception Index (PPI), is a composite index that measures the overall policy attractiveness of the 109 jurisdictions in the survey. The index is composed of survey responses to policy factors that affect investment decisions. Policy factors examined include uncertainty concerning the administration of current regulations, environmental regulations, regulatory duplication, the legal system and taxation regime, uncertainty concerning protected areas and disputed land claims, infrastructure, socioeconomic and community development conditions, trade barriers, political stability, labor regulations, quality of the geological database, security, and labor and skills availability.

The top

For the third year in a row, Ireland had the highest PPI score of 100. Wyoming, in second place, followed Ireland; it moved up from 9th place the previous year. Along with Ireland and Wyoming the top 10 ranked jurisdictions are Sweden, Saskatchewan, Finland, Nevada, Alberta, Western Australia, New Brunswick, and Portugal.

The bottom

The 10 least attractive jurisdictions for investment based on the PPI rankings are (starting with the worst) Venezuela, Myanmar, La Rioja, Zimbabwe, Chubut, Neuquen, Niger, Kyrgyzstan, Rio Negro, and Honduras. Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, and Venezuela were all in the bottom 10 jurisdictions last year. Four out of the 10 lowest rated jurisdictions based on policy were Argentinian provinces. Displaced from the bottom 10 in 2015 were Philippines, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mendoza, and Mongolia.

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In 2016, the average Canadian family will earn $105,236 in income and pay a total of $45,167 in taxes (42.9%).

If the average Canadian family had to pay its total tax bill of $45,167 up front, it would have worked until June 6 to pay the total tax bill imposed on it by all three levels of government (federal, provincial, and local).

This means that in 2016, the average Canadian family will celebrate Tax Freedom Day on June 7.

While Tax Freedom Day in 2016 arrives two days earlier than in 2015, when it fell on June 9, there is little to cheer about as the earlier date is not the result of any major tax reductions by Canadian governments. Rather, it is the result of the leap year in 2016, conservative government projections of tax revenues, and weak economies in some provinces.

Tax Freedom Day for each province varies according to the extent of the provincially levied tax burden. The earliest provincial Tax Freedom Day falls on May 17 in Alberta, while the latest falls on June 14 in Newfoundland & Labrador.

The Balanced Budget Tax Freedom Day for Canada arrives on June 18. Put differently, if governments had to increase taxes to balance their budgets instead of financing expenditures with deficits, Tax Freedom Day would arrive 11 days later.

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Expanding the Canada Pension Plan Will Not Help Canada's Most Financially Vulnerable Seniors

Concerns about the adequacy of retirement income are mostly driven by a misplaced focus on middle (and sometimes upper) income Canadians not saving enough for retirement. The debate should be refocused on Canadian seniors who, because of their very low income, are financially vulnerable in retirement.

According to Statistics Canada’s low-income cut-off, single seniors living alone are more likely than other seniors to experience financial difficulties. In 2013, 10.5% of single seniors living alone lived in low income, which is considerably higher than the rate for all seniors (3.7%). The group of low-income, single seniors is disproportionately made up of women.

A subset of single seniors is at even higher risk of low income, namely, single seniors with no income from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). In 2013, nearly half (48.9%) of single seniors with no CPP income lived in low income.

Expanding the CPP is an ineffective way to help Canada’s most financially vulnerable seniors since many of them have a limited work history. Those who have not worked, or worked only a little outside the home, have made limited contributions to the CPP. Those contributions are a key determinant of the CPP retirement benefit, so expanding the CPP would do little or nothing to help Canadian seniors with a limited or no work history.

Even for low-income single seniors with a work history and sufficient CPP contributions to receive retirement benefits, expanding the CPP may provide little or no net increase in their total income. That’s because a higher CPP benefit could simply result in a reduction in government-provided benefits targeted at low income seniors, such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

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The Sustainability of Health Care Spending in Canada

Health care is the single largest budget item for every province in Canada, ranging from 34.5 percent of total program spending in Quebec to 44.6 percent in Nova Scotia in 2015. Any changes in the amount spent on health care can have a significant impact on a government’s fiscal balance (deficits or surpluses), the resources available for other programs such as education and social services, and/or tax competitiveness.

It is therefore vital that we routinely assess historical, current, and expected trends in health care spending in order to determine if such spending is sustainable.

While a number of indicators can help determine the sustainability of changes to health care spending, the most common and informative of these indicators are the share of program spending represented by health care and the ratio of health care spending relative to the size of the economy (GDP). An increase in the former may result in the crowding-out of other spending while an increase in the latter may require a change in the current tax system or deficits.

An examination of these two indicators of health care spending, that is health care spending as a share of program spending and health care spending as a share of the economy, shows clearly that the recent period of 1998 to 2015 saw provincial governments increase health care spending at an unsustainable pace. During this period, the share of program spending represented by health care for the provinces in total grew from 34.4 percent to 40.6 percent. Further, while provincial health care spending (in total) represented only about 5.8 percent of Canada’s GDP in 1998, it had grown to represent 7.3 percent by 2015.

The pressing question today, however, is what can we reasonably expect to occur in the near future in the absence of any significant shift in government policy?

In order to answer this question, this paper presents the results of two scenarios based on a model for projecting health care spending in the future based on demographic factors (population growth and aging), inflation (general and health-specific inflation), and other factors (which may include factors related to government policy, income elasticity, developments in technology, etc.).

The first scenario is based on reasonable expectations of general inflation and demographic trends in the future, as well as assumptions regarding health-specific inflation, and other factors based on trends observed between 1998 and 2013. Under this scenario, health care spending is projected to grow at about 6.3 percent per annum on average between 2015 and 2030. As a result, health care spending is expected to consume an increasing portion of total program spending—growing from 40.6 percent in 2015 to 47.6 percent in 2030. The range of results for specific provinces is a low of 36.6 percent in Quebec to a high of 54.2 percent in Prince Edward Island in 2030. Indeed, the projections calculated indicate that five provinces (PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and British Columbia) will see health care spending grow close to (or exceed) 50 percent of total program spending by 2030. As well, health spending in total is expected to grow from 7.3 percent of the economy in 2015 to 10.7 percent in 2030.

In the second scenario, the assumptions regarding health-specific inflation and other factors are altered to reflect trends between the shorter and more recent period between 2008 and 2013. Under this scenario, health care spending is projected to grow at about 4.6 percent per annum on average between 2015 and 2030. As a result, it is expected consume a larger portion of total program spending—growing from 40.6 percent in 2015 to 45.3 percent in 2030. As well, health spending can be expected to grow from 7.3 percent of the economy in 2015 to 8.3 percent of the economy in 2030.

It is clear that under either scenario, the current ratio of health care spending to other program spending will be surpassed, as will be the current ratio of program spending to GDP. The rate of increase expected in health care expenditures will thus necessitate changes in other policies—either reductions in other spending to accommodate the increases in health care spending, or higher taxation, higher deficits and debt, or some combination of these three. Simply put, this paper shows that the current health care arrangements, which result in the level of spending observed and expected, do not seem sustainable over the next 15 years from today’s vantage point.

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Duty to Consult with Aboriginal Peoples

Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution states that “the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed”. In an attempt to provide greater clarity the constitution defines “treaty rights” as rights that now exist by way of “land claim agreements or may be so acquired”. It is through this constitutional provision that the duty to consult has been constructed by Canadian courts. The department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada estimates that the legal duty to consult is triggered for some provinces over 100,000 times per year and for the federal government over 5,000 times per year.

Over the past decade, the Supreme Court of Canada has attempted to define how provincial and federal governments are to put into practice their duty to consult with First Nations. They have done this through various judgments including: Haida Nation v. British Columbia, Taku River Tlingit First Nation v. British Columbia, Mikisew Cree First Nation v. Canada, and Tsilhqot’in Nation v. Canada. In an effort to address the Crown’s legal obligation to consult with aboriginal groups, provinces have created consultation guides for their departments and project proponents. However, these guidelines are vastly different depending on which jurisdiction a project is in. This creates a patchwork of consultation policies across the country.

There are some principles that all jurisdictions share, such as the Crown’s taking responsibility for the duty to consult; and yet there are other principles that differ dramatically depending on the province in which a project is located. For example, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec are the only jurisdictions that do not state in their policies that aboriginal communities are required to participate in the consultation process. British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec also all still have “draft” aboriginal consultation policies. In the case of Ontario, their policy has been in draft form since 2006. The consultation process could be improved for project proponents and First Nation communities across the country.


  • British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec could provide additional certainty to First Nations and project proponents by finalizing their “draft” consultation guidelines.
  • British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec could outline the roles and responsibilities of First Nations during the consultation process. The rest of the jurisdictions analyzed for this paper have clear expectations of engagement from First Nations communities.
  • Timelines around the consultation process to ensure the duty to consult is implemented in a timely way is another improvement jurisdictions could adopt. Timelines will help guide project proponents who are undertaking procedural aspects of the duty to consult and it will also provide First Nations a clear indication of how long they have to engage in the consultation process. First Nations’ capacity to engage in the consultation process should be taken into consideration when developing timelines.
  • Manitoba could improve their process by including clear offloading provisions in their duty-to-consult policy and highlighting what, if any, procedural duties can be offloaded to project proponents in the consultation process.
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Report Card on Alberta’s Elementary Schools 2016

The Report Card on Alberta’s Elementary Schools 2016 reports a variety of relevant, objective indicators of school performance. These indicators are used to calculate an overall rating for each school. On the basis of this rating, the schools are ranked. The Report Card brings all of this information together in one easily accessible public document so that anyone can analyze and compare the performance of individual schools. By doing so, the Report Card assists parents when they choose a school for their children and encourages and assists all those seeking to improve their school.

In Alberta, many parents enjoy considerable choice regarding the school in which they will enroll their children. Where choice is available, the Report Card provides a valuable decision-making tool. Because it makes comparisons easy, the Report Card alerts parents to nearby schools that appear to have more effective academic programs. Further, parents can determine whether schools of interest are improving over time. By first studying the Report Card, parents will be better prepared to ask relevant question when they interview the principal and teachers at the schools they are considering.

The Report Card provides a detailed picture of each school’s academic outcomes that is not easily available elsewhere. Naturally, a sound academic program should be complemented by effective programs in areas of school activity not measured by the Report Card.

Certainly, the act of publicly rating and ranking schools attracts attention. Schools that perform well or show consistent improvement are applauded. The results of poorly performing schools generate concern, as do those of schools whose performance is deteriorating. This inevitable attention provides an incentive for all those connected with a school to focus on student results.

However, the Report Card offers more than incentive: it includes a variety of indicators, each of which reports results for an aspect of school performance that might be improved. School administrators who are dedicated to improvement accept the Report Card as another source of opportunities for positive change.

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Moving Targets: Re-estimating Federal Deficits and Debt-to-GDP

The federal government has repeatedly shifted the goal posts on its own “fiscal anchors.” This bulletin examines the robustness of the current “fiscal anchor” to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio by the government’s first mandate.

The 2016 federal budget confirmed the government’s plan to run long-term deficits–$113.2 billion over the five-year plan. Budget 2016 increases program spending by 7.6% in 2016/17, following a 6.7% increase in 2015/16.

A closer look at the government’s spending plan reveals a major slowdown in spending growth during the last three years. Specifically, the federal government is proposing to reduce spending as a share of the economy and per-person spending (inflation-adjusted) from 2017/18 to 2020/21. Decreasing the size of the federal government does not square with the government’s view that government spending drives economic growth.

Using three alternative spending scenarios from 2017/18 to 2020/21, we estimate the potential impact on the five-year deficit plan and debt-to-GDP assuming:

  • Program spending increases at the rate of population growth plus inflation
  • Program spending increases at the rate of economic growth
  • Program spending increases by 6.0% annually (the average growth rate of first two years of the 5-year budget plan)

We estimate that over the course of the government’s fiscal plan the cumulative federal deficit could reach up to $196.0 billion. We find that the debt-to-GDP ratio under three different spending scenarios would be greater in 2020/21 than in 2015/16. The federal government is therefore unlikely to meet its latest target of reducing the federal debt-to- GDP by the end of its first mandate.

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Rates of Return for the Canada Pension Plan

There is confusion regarding the rates of return earned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which manages the investable funds of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) with the returns received by individual Canadian workers in the form of CPP retirement benefits.

The returns of the CPPIB do not in any direct way influence the CPP retirement benefits received by individual Canadian workers. CPP retirement benefits are basically determined by the number of years a person works, their earnings in each year (relative to the maximum under the CPP), and the age at which they retire.

The returns to the CPPIB, however, do benefit workers and retirees indirectly. Specifically, the returns earned by the CPPIB can reduce the need for higher contribution rates. In addition, sustained over-performance by the CPPIB over time could allow for a reduction in the contribution rate and/ or an increase in the benefits paid. However, the opposite is also plausible, whereby under-performance by the CPPIB could necessitate higher contribution rates and/or reduced benefits.

Based on the model employed in this paper (which assumes workers retire at age 65), the real rates of return enjoyed by Canadian workers from their CPP retirement benefits ranged from an incredible 45.5 percent in 1969 to just 3.6 percent in 2015.

Specifically, there was an initial steep decline from the 45.5 percent real rate of return observed for retirees in 1969 to less than one-third that rate in 1989 (12.6 percent). By 2003, the real rate of return for CPP retirees was halved to 6.3 percent. By 2015, the real rate of return for CPP retirees had declined to 3.6 percent.

The projected real rates of return for the CPP continue to fall to 2.1 percent for those retiring in 2037, stabilizing thereafter. In other words, Canadian workers retiring after 2036 (people born in or after 1972) can expect a real rate of return of 2.1 percent from the CPP.

The rates of return noted above are further reduced if certain assumptions are changed. For example, making maximum contributions over the entire course of one’s working life (ages 18–65)—rather than assuming zero contributions for the first eight years (which are exempted from the retirement benefit calculation), as done in the first set of calculations—reduces the real rate of return to 1.7 percent for workers retiring in 2037 or later (compared to 2.1 percent).

A different way to think about the returns received by Canadian workers from their CPP retirement benefits, particularly those borne after 1971, is to compare the expected rate of return (2.1 percent real rate of return) with the required real rate of return for the CPPIB of 4.0 percent. In other words, Canadian workers born after 1971 pay into a fund that must generate a 4.0 percent real rate of return to meet its obligations, a fund which provides a 2.1 real rate of return in the form of CPP retirement benefits.

There are two principal reasons for the decline in the rates of return. The first is the difference in the periods of contribution for Canadian workers, particularly in the early years of the CPP. For instance, in the initial years of the plan, only ten years of maximum contributions were required to receive a full CPP benefit. That period is currently 39 years.

The second principal reason for the decline in the rates of return is the increasing contribution rate to the CPP (i.e., the tax rate). The CPP was launched in 1966 with a contribution rate of 3.6 percent. The CPP contribution rate climbed steadily beginning in 1987, and stabilized at 9.9 percent in 2003. It’s worth noting that the stabilized CPP contribution rate is nearly three times higher than the original contribution rate of 3.6 percent.

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Child Care in Canada: Examining the Status Quo in 2015

Governments in Canada have decided that it is good public policy to help subsidize the cost of raising children, especially for children in low-income households. This paper presents the existing array of programs in Canada (as of the fall of 2015) and examines their nature (targeted or universal), function, and costs. The federal government is, by far, the major actor in this regard.

The Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) directs tax-free funds (about $122 per month per child in 2015) to low and middle income families with children under 18. The National Child Benefit Supplement (NTBS) adds additional funds (about $190 per month per child in 2015) to qualifying low income families. Combined, these two federal programs cost taxpayers about $14 billion in 2015. In addition, there are 3 other federal programs of significance.

The Universal Child Care Benefit is a taxable cash grant to families with children and is designed to “help families cover the cost of child care.” The basic grant at the beginning of 2015 was $100 per month for any child under 6. However, during 2015, the program was expanded and now provides $160 per month per child under 6 and $60 for children between ages 6 and 17. This program cost approximately $2.7 billion in 2014 but about $.4 billion of that was recovered through the tax system. With the enhancements, the estimated cost of the UCCB program will be about $7 billion in 2016 with at least $1 billion recovered in taxes.

The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) tops up any parental contribution to their child’s RESP of up to $2,500 per year with a cash grant of 20 percent of the parental contribution. This plan is designed to provide an incentive for parents to save for their child’s post-secondary education. In 2014, the CESG program cost taxpayers about $800 million.

The Child Care Expense Deduction allows one parent (usually the lower income parent if both parents are employed) to deduct expenses for children under 16 so that a parent could earn income, go to school, or conduct research. The cost of this program in 2015 is estimated to be about $900 million.

There are a number of much smaller programs that provide modest assistance for children’s fitness and for families with disabled children. All together, the federal programs that direct cash benefits to families with children will cost about $24 billion this year.

Each province in Canada has programs designed to help families with children as well. Most of the provincial programs are income tested so that the benefits flow mainly to lower-income families. The Quebec day care program stands out both for its uniqueness and scope. While there is no accessible information about program costs, waiting lists, and usage by class, it is a much discussed and much studied program. For lower-income families with pre-school children, the program subsidizes daycare in eligible facilities so that families only pay $7.30 per child per day. Even that low fee is waived in cases where the family is in very straightened circumstances. For families with incomes above $155,000 per annum, the fee is modulated up to a maximum of $20 per child per day.

The paper examines the case of a single parent with a pre-school child on social assistance and the federal and provincial benefits that would flow to that family. In nine of the 10 provinces, the child-specific cash benefits provided by various levels of government amount to between 30 and 38 percent of total family income. For Quebec, however, government benefits are about 50 percent of the family’s income. And this excludes the Quebec daycare program, which not all single-parent families use. Again, the Quebec government stands out in terms of their decision to direct significantly more public funds to families with children.

The paper examines a second case, one that focuses on a middle income family, but it compares only Ontario and Quebec. In this case, once the higher taxes that Quebecers pay are considered, Ontario families with two children (ages 4 and 8) are somewhat better off. While Quebec provides more benefits, including heavily subsidized daycare, it also has much higher taxes.

The paper’s final section provides an overview of the research on the effects of daycare programs on children’s cognitive and noncognitive outcomes. Four conclusions can be drawn from that research. They are:

  • First, that the quality of parenting and home life is the most important determinant of a child’s intellectual and emotional development;
  • Second, good quality daycare (similar to good quality primary education) may be able to help offset some of the deleterious effects of a bad home environment;
  • Third, for children who have a positive home environment, there is no consistent evidence that daycare has a positive, lasting impact on cognitive development; and
  • Fourth, the results of smaller scale, high quality programs cannot be used to support the case for universal, publicly funded programs.

Finally, the most recent evaluation of the Quebec subsidized daycare program, that by Haeck et. al (2015), suggests that while the plan has led to increased labour force participation by mothers, it was “mainly driven by highly educated mothers.” As well, the policy “did not improve school readiness and may even have had negative impacts on children from low-income families.”

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