Daycare places | The new counter postponed for a year to avoid a “mess”

(Quebec) Promised for the fall, the new one-stop shop for obtaining a place in daycare has been postponed for a year. “Technical problems” must be resolved to avoid a “mess” in the waiting list, explains the Minister of Families, Suzanne Roy.

Last September, she announced the upcoming creation of a “real” one-stop shop, “simpler and more reliable” for parents. This is a promise made by many governments over the past 20 years.

The objective is, among other things, to prevent daycare services from circumventing the law and arbitrarily selecting the children to whom they give a place. This is a widespread practice that the Auditor General of Quebec denounced in 2020.

The big news is the Legault government’s desire to finally give parents an approximate idea of ​​their child’s rank on the waiting lists for CPEs and subsidized private daycares.

The new counter will be managed by the Ministry of Families and will replace La Place 0-5, a centralized waiting list which had been under the responsibility of a cooperative since 2013. Quebec repatriated La Place 0-5 to the Ministry in 2022 in following criticism from the Auditor General and in the wake of a massive leak of personal data revealed by The Press in 2021.

“More complicated than we thought”

The new counter was to see the light of day in the fall of 2024, after a “running-in” period in June. The process is postponed for a year.

“We have some technical problems that we need to resolve first, because we don’t want to create a mess in our waiting list,” says Suzanne Roy in an interview.


The Minister of Families, Suzanne Roy

First of all, according to her, it is not simple, “at the computer level”, to allow parents to know the approximate situation of their child in the waiting list of each daycare service where they have registered their child.

Quebec plans not to give them the exact rank, because it would be too complex. Instead, he envisions color coding. Red would mean the child is at the bottom of the list; yellow, that hope is allowed; green, that we are close to getting a place.

“We want to refine everything that affects the ranks for parents. Because on a technological level, it turns out to be more complicated than we thought,” recognizes the minister.

Asylum seekers

Another issue: the integration within the new window of asylum seekers requesting a place in daycare for their children.

With the decision of the Court of Appeal forcing Quebec to give them access to subsidized childcare services, the minister expects to add up to 8,000 children to the waiting list; 4000 are currently registered in Place 0-5 according to her.

However, asylum seekers “do not have a civil identification number”, “they do not have a tax report, they do not have a health insurance card”, which causes “small computer problems,” she explains.

Such an identification number is necessary since the entry scope of the new counter will be the Government Authentication Service (GAS).

The SAG is the baby of the Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital Affairs, Éric Caire, who was featured in the SAAQclic saga. Suzanne Roy was careful to note that the current problems at the ticket office “are not the fault of the SAG”.

The IT solution chosen by Quebec for its new counter, purchased without a call for tenders at a cost of $4.6 million, is software from the American giant SalesForce, which owns the application Slack and who is behind the Uber Eats platform, for example. The government purchased in 2020, also through a private contract, one of its software via an intermediary, for COVID-19 screening.

The government is also doing business with an external firm, Levio Conseils de Québec, to develop its new counter. For all of its information technology needs, the Ministry of the Family concluded a contract with it, after a call for tenders, worth 4.4 million. In the last year, Levio has attracted attention in particular for having obtained significant financial support from the Caisse de dépôt et placement and for having recruited Joëlle Boutin, former member of the Coalition Avenir Québec.

The new counter will cost $9.6 million, according to estimates from the Ministry of Family. Its “run-in” will take place in spring 2025 and its “full opening” will take place in the fall.

Close monitoring

In a report tabled in the National Assembly last week, Auditor General Guylaine Leclerc deplored that 4 out of 10 childcare services failed their quality assessment in 2022-2023. According to the most recent data from the Ministry, there has been a lower failure rate since then, but “the grades are not yet satisfactory,” according to the minister.

She will demand accountability from childcare services which have failed the test in the last two years and for which there has not been “enough follow-up” from the Ministry. She wants to ensure that corrections are made.

How will the new counter work?

  • CPEs and subsidized private daycares will be forced to use the counter to fill their places. Parents will have to register their child to obtain one; they will be able to put their child’s name on the waiting list for as many childcare services as they wish.
  • The order of children on the list of each daycare service will now be determined based on the desired date of entry into the daycare service and no longer on the date of registration at the counter.
  • A CPE or a subsidized private daycare must notify the counter when a place becomes available and must be filled. The latter will provide him with the name of the child at the top of the list. Until now, the daycare service itself chose the child from the list; this will no longer be possible.
  • For unsubsidized private daycares and family daycare services, Quebec will instead create a “clientele reserve”. Parents will have the opportunity to register their child in this reserve through the counter. And these daycares will be able to fill their places by drawing from the reserve.

Learn more

  • 28,831
    Number of children waiting and for whom access to a place was desired before December 31, 2023

    Number of children registered on the waiting list whose desired attendance date is after December 31, 2023

    Source: Dashboard of the Ministry of Family

  • 27,438
    Number of pregnant women pre-registered as of December 31, 2023

    Source: Dashboard of the Ministry of Family

  • 17,429
    Number of new places created since fall 2021 out of the 37,000 promised by March 31, 2025

    303 422
    Number of places in the childcare network, but among them, just over 60,000 are in unsubsidized daycares

    Source: Dashboard of the Ministry of Family

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