Skip to content
CityLab
Economy

The Global Legacy of Quebec’s Subsidized Child Daycare

With more than two decades behind it, the Quebec program that spawned an affordable child care model has some lessons for the rest of the world.
Since Quebec established subsidized daycare, it's seen a spike in working moms.
Since Quebec established subsidized daycare, it's seen a spike in working moms.Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

Every morning before work, Damir Lolic leaves his home in Zagreb, Croatia, with his three-year-old daughter, Dora, walks a few hundred meters down the street, and delivers her to a nearby daycare center. Like many of the children in Croatia, Lolic’s daughter attends a government-subsidized care center, part of a suite of policies designed to ease the burden on working families. The program means that Lolic and his partner don’t have to make the choice between working or staying home to care for Dora, and both have been able to continue to pursue their careers. Such subsidized child-care programs are in effect in many parts of the world, including Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Australia. And many of them owe their inspiration to a similar program that began more than twenty years ago, in Quebec, Canada.

With many years behind it, the Quebec program that spawned a global subsidized child-care model has shown marked progress in some areas in its original home province—while still lagging in others. One of the most remarkable changes has been the employment rate of mothers of young kids, which has spiked dramatically since the start of the program.