“CPEs have been a real revolution” for Quebec

The establishment of the network of Early Childhood Centers (CPE) has completely upset family dynamics in Quebec, says former Prime Minister Pauline Marois, even if she considers it an unfinished dream.

On January 23, 1997, the new family policy, including the creation of $5 day care centers – the CPEs – was launched under the leadership of Pauline Marois.

Then Minister of Education, Mr.me Marois indicates that this project will improve the development of children, but above all facilitate the work-family balance of women.

Twenty-five years later, the instigator of this policy believes that the results have exceeded all expectations. The impacts are numerous: significant reduction in poverty, support for the education of young people and creation of collective wealth.

“CPEs have been a real revolution. This is one of the greatest social changes that Quebec has experienced in the last 30 years,” says Ms.me Marois, in interview with The newspaper.

Several pitfalls

The former premier of Quebec, however, was disappointed with the divergent visions of successive governments. The Liberals’ coming to power was the biggest brake on the network’s growth and its repercussions are still being felt today, she believes.

“They went all out in the development of commercial child care and the bureaucracy that grew up around it. [de la création de CPE] was a real disaster”, emphasizes Pauline Marois.

Asked about network problems last May, Ms.me Marois had harsh words for the current Minister of the Family Mathieu Lacombe. She now says she is aware that he is “doing his best” to improve the situation.

“The priority is the recognition and training of educators to develop more places in the network. The minister seems to be going in that direction,” she said.

Unfinished dream

However, the vision that Pauline Marois had in 1997 went much further than what we find in CPEs today. She wanted families to have access to a panoply of related services and that these establishments not only be used for the education and “babysitting” of children.

A nurse or a doctor available in the establishment, consultations with psychologists or social workers, an on-site vaccination service… This is the ideal M was aiming for.me Marois.

“It’s not too late to achieve this dream. But the fact that we have developed private daycares in parallel makes the task more complicated,” she concludes.

– With Marc-André Gagnon, parliamentary office

What Pauline Marois thinks…


The Parti Québécois of Paul St-Pierre-Plamondon continues to lose feathers in the voting intentions. In a Léger poll published Wednesday, he found himself face to face with the Conservative Party of Éric Duhaime, in fourth position. Asked about the future of the PQ, the former head of training says she is convinced that it still has its place in the Quebec political world, even if she knows “that it is difficult now”. “It remains a good party which continues to have strong committed activists and a great team in the National Assembly, even if it is very small,” she commented. “All I can wish is that they can fully occupy their rightful place. »


The federal government announced last August that it would set up a pan-Canadian $10 daycare system by 2026, based on the Quebec CPE model. “Excellent news” for the former premier of Quebec. “I am delighted that M.me [Chrystia] Freeland has recognized our model and that we establish a universal principle. But it’s important that we let the provinces take their own initiatives afterwards,” says Ms.me Marois.

Québec has made numerous representations and representations to the Government of Canada on this subject over the years. But according to her, there would have been no positive response from the federal side. “I am happy that Quebec can be compensated for everything we have done for 25 years,” she adds, referring to the $6 billion that will be injected into the network over the next five years.


Asked about the health measures and the management of the pandemic of his former colleague and now Prime Minister François Legault, Mme Marois was stingy with comments. “I have sometimes agreed, sometimes completely disagreed. But I don’t want to play stage manager, it’s hard enough for this government. »

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