The government is mum on possible plans to index daycare rates to a sliding scale according to income, but a source told Radio-Canada that it is a serious possibility.
"Right now we’re talking to people to get scenarios. We’re not looking at scenarios right now, we’re talking to people to get the best idea to put on the table," said Families Minister Francine Charbonneau.
Opposition House Leader Agnès Maltais said the Liberals were breaking a promise they made during the 2014 election campaign.
"It's a direct attack on the middle class," she said.
Indexing vs. sliding scale
It isn't the first time the idea has been floated by the Liberal government. In May, Premier Philippe Couillard said a sliding-scale system could be a possibility.
Jean Charest's previous Liberal government had also discussed a similar idea for parents above a certain income threshhold.
The subsidized daycare program has been in existence since 1997 as a way to encourage women to rejoin the workforce after having children.
The parental contribution was first set at $5 to begin, and was raised only once — to $7 in January 2004.
In its 2014 election campaign platform, the Liberal party promised to "ensure the longevity of daycare services by indexing the daily contribution made by parents to the inflation rate during its next term, namely over the next five years."
As of Oct. 1 of this year, the rate will rise from $7 to $7.30 a day.
CBC Daybreak heard from two parents on Thursday who said that they believe $7-a-day daycare is a great deal for the value of the services, but expressed frustration that the additional fees would go to the government and not the daycares.
‘Worst possible move’
“I think it’s one of the worst possible moves that they can make,” CPE association spokeswoman Gina Gasparini told CBC Daybreak on Thursday.
She said the Liberals’ about-face since campaigning on a $7-plus-inflation model in the last provincial election is "unacceptable."
She said that her association represents 700 daycares and that she only found out about the sliding-scale consideration on Thursday morning from the media.
Gasparini argued that the public daycare system is one of the only revenue-generating government-funded programs in Quebec, but constitutes just one per cent of the government budget.
On top of that, she said, that people are already paying into daycare on a sliding scale when it comes down to it.
"The universal system is funded by government money but the government money is generated through its taxpayers, so to say that we need to put it on a sliding scale according to revenue, our system already works like that. We’re subsidized with public money that comes through a sliding scale of taxes already," Gasparini said.