Survey by Ipsos Reid for Federal government finds Canadians want choice and support for parents

Canadians not Buying Daycare Lobby Spin, Want Choice and Support for Parents

In 2006, Ipsos Reid pollsters conducted a focus group survey for the federal government of child care policy and communications about this policy. Participants want support and choice from the government in child care and do not see universal free daycare as realistic or desirable. Also, it is clear that the public does not accept the use of the term “child care” to mean “daycare”.

Here are highlights of the findings (all emphasis added) or read the full report (broken link).

“While initially reluctant to promote any one form of child care as ideal—”it’s about having choices and doing what’s right for your own family“—nearly all parents feel that the ideal, particularly during the first two or three years, is “stay at home care with Mom.“”

Participants in all groups were unequivocal: governments need to support Canadian families.

“Participants were asked about the idea of free day care. While most parents agreed that free day care would be nice, few took this question seriously. Most recognized that it would not be a realistic financial option for any government, and some felt that more affluent parents do not need financial assistance and that government should focus its efforts on helping those that need it most. Moreover, the idea raised concerns about the quality of the daycare offered under these circumstances.”

“It’s never free.”
“That would be great.”
“Free—what would that mean for the standard of care?”
“There would be too many kids in daycare.”

The argument that the Government of Canada should be focussing its efforts on providing early learning opportunities or in regulated day care spaces receives short shrift from most participants who find the argument that government should be providing them with support so that they can make their own choices about child care much more compelling. That is not to say that there is no role for government in ensuring quality in day care as this too is a concern of participants.”

When participants were asked for their opinion of the fact that some people have said that the previous government’s child care plan would have provided free daycare, similar to universal healthcare, for all Canadian children, most were quite dismissive. On the one hand, they felt that this was a little unrealistic and on the other, many were unconvinced that this would even be a good idea. Most felt it isn’t necessary or appropriate and that government should focus its efforts on helping those that need it most.”

Nor were participants particularly swayed by the argument that regulated child care centres can provide better care than many parents, although all acknowledged that if the children have parents with no parenting skills this would definitely be the case.”


“Child care” versus “day care”: “When asked to describe the difference between child care and day care, participants tended to say that day care was a structured child care arrangement for working parents. Child care, by contrast, seemed to be a broader, more inclusive term…. In terms of benefiting children, the term “child care” seemed to elicit quite positive connotations among participants. By contrast, “day care” was thought to refer almost exclusively to day care centres. Almost all the participants thought that “day care” meant something quite different to “child care”. On a more positive note, “day care” was also thought to provide more structured activities for children to participate in”.

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