Quebecers believe policymakers should be doing more for our youngest citizens

Montréal, November 21, 2018 – Fully 62% of Quebecers believe that not enough is being done to promote the proper development of children aged five and under. That’s the main finding of a survey conducted by Léger and made public by the Early Childhood Observatory. The results highlight Quebecers’ expectations as to what importance should be given to our very young children, and to the concerns of families in our society. Quebecers feel, however, that responsibility for our youngest citizens does not rest solely with the government: while 87% think the highest levels of government should be doing more to promote earlychildhood health and development, significant proportions of people have the same expectation of municipalities (76%) and employers (73%).

“What the data are telling us is that Quebecers seem mindful of the fact that parents aren’t the only ones playing a crucial role with respect to children under five, and that engagement from all stakeholders in society is a must to ensure those kids’ proper development, starting during pregnancy,” says Fannie Dagenais, Director of the Early Childhood Observatory, as the Grande semaine des tout-petits (Early Childhood Week) is in full swing in Québec. “Current scientific literature shows that we have shared levers at our disposal. We can act to help ensure access to quality educational childcare facilities and healthcare, for example, or implement measures to improve living conditions for families, like affordable housing financial support, for instance. Certain measures have already been implemented in Québec. They should be maintained and strengthened to preserve the gains we have made. Further measures could be added that would have significant impact on our little ones’ development and health,” she adds.

Around one in four kindergarten-aged children in Québec is considered vulnerable in at least one key area of development. Moreover, 91% of Quebecers believe the government should act to prevent vulnerabilities in children in kindergarten. Taking action early and giving every child the same chances to succeed will ensure the best possible conditions for the growth and development of the society of tomorrow..

Early childhood: a growing priority for Quebecers

Studies show that societies which invest in early childhood and in families are more healthy societies. In 2015, when the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation surveyed Quebecers’ aspirations, 60% of respondents believed the development of children aged from birth to five years should be a priority for public policymakers. In 2018, 75% of respondents agree it should be a priority.1 The increase therefore speaks to Quebecers’ increasing desire to see public authorities invest more in early-childhood health and development, to ensure that our children reach their full potential and grow up to be well-rounded, engaged citizens.

In addition, 61% of Quebecers believe that the healthy development of children under five is a shared responsibility (collective and individual), while 16% believe it is mostly a collective responsibility.

Quebecers in favour of collective solutions

The Léger survey commissioned for the Observatory reveals that Quebecers strongly support implementation of specific measures, such as  improving the quality and accessibility of educational childcare facilities and improving work-life balance.

Quality, accessible educational childcare facilities

High-quality educational childcare services are beneficial to children’s health and overall development, because they act within the window of opportunity represented by early childhood, complementing stimuli received within the family. In all, 88% of survey respondents believe such services can have an impact on children’s later academic success.

Among the measures affecting early childhood education, Quebecers think the government should give priority to improving access to educational childcare facilities in disadvantaged communities (33%), maintaining access at the lowest possible cost (30%), and improving quality (28%).

Enhanced measures for improving work-life balance

Work-related responsibilities can sometimes compete with parenting obligations, creating tension. Parents experiencing work-family conflicts tend to be less available, less affectionate and more irritable, which can adversely affect a child’s development. According to a recent survey specifically concerning work-life balance, 66% of parents of children aged between 0 and 5 years old find striving to achieve that balance to be a significant source of stress.

These data strongly support the idea that measures to facilitate work-life balance are essential to families’ well-being. Moreover, 86% of Quebecers believe that the government and the municipalities should be doing more to promote the implementation of family-work balance measures. Following are the approaches to improving that balance that Quebecers find most compelling:

  1. The government should enact laws requiring companies to ensure that all parents can benefit from measures, regardless of their work schedule or level of education (46%);
  2. Municipal, community, health and social services’ opening hours should better reflect workplace realities (44%);
  3. More companies should provide measures (37%).

Implementing measures for improving work-life balance would reduce stress among family members and in turn have a beneficial effect on toddlers’ mental health, in addition to providing support to parents of children with special needs.

Survey methodology

For this Web survey, Léger polled 1,260 Quebecers aged 18 or older and conversant in French or English between October 2 and 11, 2018. Using the latest available Statistics Canada data, the results were weighted by age, sex, region, mother tongue, region, presence in the household of children under 18, and education to ensure a representative sample of the population under study. For purposes of comparison, a probability 3 sample of the same size (n=1,260) would have a margin of error of ±2.8%, 19 times out of 20 (i.e., in 95% of cases).

About the Early Childhood Observatory
The mission of the Early Childhood Observatory is to help ensure that the development and well-being of Quebec’s very youngest children has a place on the province’s list of social priorities. In order to do so, the Observatory compiles the most rigorous data on early childhood (from.

About Early Childhood Week
Running from November 18 to 24, 2018, Early Childhood Week is an opportunity to share information and open up a dialogue about early childhood development, to shine the spotlight on local and regional initiatives designed to support young children and to reach out to the entire population. A number of activities and events will take place across the province throughout the week.

About Hand for the Little Ones
Hand in Hand for the Little Ones champions early childhood development with the support of a number of engaged partners whose shared goal is to make early childhood a social priority for Quebec. Today’s toddlers are tomorrow’s adults. Does this not qualify them as a group that warrants special attention by our society? It is important to take collective action, from conception onward, to provide the best possible conditions so that every child can thrive at every stage of their development. By starting early, we can help them realize their full potential and become well-rounded, engaged adults. By making sure all young children have the same chances, we will be building a more just, more dynamic, more enlightened and more prosperous society.

1. Note that the reply scale was modified in 2018; the sum of reply choices “Agree completely” and “Agree somewhat” corresponds to the choice “Yes” in the 2015 survey. 

Source :
Early Childhood Observatory
Béatrice Gougeon
Morin Relations Publiques
514 289-8688, ext 236
514 688-3936

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Early Childhood Week is an opportunity to raise awareness, promote dialogue and engage society about early childhood matters.