Editorial: Why We Support the CSU Daycare Initiative

Graphic Isabelle Thuy-Mai Nguyen

It’s not often that The Link’s editorial staff can unequivocally endorse a Concordia Student Union project, but the promising trajectory of the CSU-run daycare project gives us hope that unicorns really do exist.

A university degree can be difficult to obtain. Long hours dedicated to reading, attending classes and completing work leave little time for student parents to balance studying and caring for their children.

Additionally, the cost of sending a child to a Quebec daycare facility is something that not all student parents can afford. For those who don’t qualify for government-subsidized childcare, daycare programs can cost more than $30 per day. With the current Quebec Liberal government’s austerity measures cutting funding to public institutions—such as daycare facilities—the situation for student parents is only becoming more bleak.

Quebec’s daycare program, which guarantees a $7-a-day province-run childcare service for Quebec residents, was initiated in 1997 to help low-income families strike a balance between working and raising children. That very institution is now likely to be changed to a system that runs on a sliding scale based on family income, despite the Liberal government’s promise in the 2014 election campaign to index daycare fees to inflation. The benefits of a free childcare service for university students are clear, even if most students don’t earn enough to see the sort of drastic rise in daycare rates proposed by the Liberals for high-income earners.

In November, we supported the referendum question mandating continued research into the possibility of opening a CSU-run, on-campus daycare. A recent report published by the CSU details the projected costs of establishing the facility, suggesting that the total bill could run as high as $1.1 million, although anticipated government subsidies could amount to almost $300,000. The costs admittedly aren’t cheap, but we believe the service and the opportunities it will provide are priceless.

We also support the CSU’s recommendation that the union spend additional money equipping the daycare to accept children under the age of 18 months. Concordia has two existing childcare centres, but only one of them currently accepts infants, and the waiting list for this facility is two years long.

Most of Concordia’s existing daycare spots are filled by the children of faculty and staff members, leaving student parents with few in-house options for care. The situation doesn’t improve much for students who look elsewhere either, as most external daycare facilities begin enrollment for children at 18 months and older. This is particularly problematic as many student parents have very young children who require constant care and attention. Students should not have to delay their studies for multiple semesters just because their baby is too young for most daycares.

More than 85 per cent of students voted yes in favour of moving forward with the project last November, sending a clear signal that there is both significant support and demand for more daycare spaces on campus. Not only are on-campus daycare facilities more convenient for students, they would also give some peace of mind to parents of children with health problems or special needs who feel uncomfortable leaving their children in faraway neighbourhoods while they study.

Being a student parent is tough. The thousands of Concordians who rush from work to class to daycare and still have to find time to cook dinner and complete assignments deserve our respect and, above all, our support.

Helping student parents out now will enable them to better support their families and contribute more to society when they graduate. It is also, simply put, the right thing to do. We are fully behind the daycare proposal and hope the project moves forward quickly with the support of the university administration.