With the recent massive increase in Quebec’s public daycare fees , I’ve read and heard a lot of comments along the lines of “well, if you’re making $150,000 or more a year and you can’t skip a few nights out to pay for your kid’s daycare, you need to re-assess your priorities.”

That argument is as foolish as saying students should “stop drinking lattes and pay more for school.”

Both scenarios paint personal budgets in a far too simplistic way. Do people have to tighten their belts to pay for necessities? Of course. Is it fair to ask people to pay more into public programs? Depending on the specific case, absolutely. In both the cases of daycare fees and university tuition, I have no issue with people paying more.

But there’s a way to do it and there’s a way not to do it, and increasing people’s fees by thousands of dollars in one shot is not the way to do it in either of these cases.

The most common argument I hear from people who agree with the large increases is that daycare and university are cheaper in Quebec than everywhere else, so we should just shut up and be happy about it. To a certain extent, they’re not wrong. These services are cheaper here and we’re lucky for that. But our budgets are also made here within our specific context, not outside the province with a different context…

A two-child family earning $150,000  (gross) in 2014 would have budgeted $1,456/year per kid at the $8/day (it was $7.30/day up front + 70 cents per day at tax time). That’s $2,912/year total, which is a great deal, no doubt about it.

That same family with the same kids in the same daycares will be paying $4,349.80 total on their 2015 tax bill. That’s completely insane.

Some people may see a family income of $150,000 and think, hey, how hard could it be to find an extra $1,400/year? For most families, the answer is very, very hard.

That’s a monthly mortgage payment for a small house in Montreal. That’s a couple of months of groceries. It’s a municipal tax bill. It’s practically a year of diapers.

It’s not as if “wealthy” families – and I use the word “wealthy” lightly – making $150,000 eat caviar twice a week and spend their weekends at their country manor. First of all, almost half that money goes to income tax, then a huge chunk of the leftover goes to sales tax, government service fees, and let’s not forget the $200-per-adult health contribution the Quebec Liberals imposed in their last mandate.

It’s about budgets, and while I have no issue with people paying their share, the right thing to do was to index the increase to inflation: As the cost to the government goes up according to inflation, so too should the cost borne by parents.

That’s fair.

This isn’t a fight between the “rich” and “poor” – all Quebec families are in the same quagmire here. We should all be fighting together to save this program.

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