CPE, Private, Family: Choosing the Right Daycare in Quebec (1/2)

Dear parents relocating to Quebec, you will be happy to learn that the Belle Province has a daycare system for which the ROC and many countries around the world envy us. That being said, finding your way inside it and, more importantly, finding the right daycare solution and provider for your beloved children can be a real challenge for newcomers. The whole team at ARIANNE Relocation is happy to share tips and advice to help you in this two-part post. (The article was updated in 2018 to reflect changes in pricing.)


There are different types of daycare providers in Quebec: subsidized, commercial, non-profit, and family. Definitions often overlap. Here is an attempt to clarify things, so that you can make the best choice for your children.

  • CPE, or early childhood centres, are non-profit private corporations, managed by a board of parents, entirely subsidized by the Government. They provide daycare services in a dedicated space, usually up to 80 children organized in age groups, with a fully trained educator in each group, all year round. They follow a learn-through-play educational program and are very close to European preschool or kindergarten programs in terms of organization. Originally, parents were required to contribute only $5 a day, regardless of income, but costs changed significantly in 2017. Today the rates range from $7.75 to $21.20 per child per day, depending on income. (Families earning under $59,200 a year pay $7.75 a day. Prices increase incrementally for higher incomes. Families earning $76,380 a year pay $13.45. Families earning over $161,000 pay the maximum rate of $21.20 per day.)
  • Subsidized family daycare providers take care of up to 6 children at their place. Although they are self-employed, the quality of their services (home safety, training, educational program) is controlled by Coordinating Offices (“BC” in French). Parents’ contribution is the same as the CPEs.
  • Non-subsidized daycare centres are often called “commercial” or “private” daycare centres. Technically there are no “public” daycare providers and even CPE are private. The difference is that non-subsidized centres are mostly profit-oriented. From big structures very much like CPE, to small ventures copying family daycare organization, their prices, quality of service and ethics span from worst to best.
  • Non-subsidized family daycare providers operate entirely out of the control of the Government. There is no guarantee as to training, safety or program.

How to choose

There are several elements to take into account when choosing the right daycare for your children, such as age, price, quality of service, educational program, etc.

  • Family versus collective daycare: according to the age of your children, you may prefer family daycare over collective daycare. Usually, infants up to 18 or 24 months appreciate the motherly, affective approach and small, intimate scale of family daycare; whereas toddlers, craving for social interaction and in need of more guidance and stimulation, prefer collective daycare.
  • Commercial versus “public” daycare: be it for financial reasons ($7 / $40 or more), because of the educational program, or because you would feel reassured by the control the Government exert on subsidized daycare (CPE or family), you will probably favour the latter solution.
  • Reality strikes back: the shortage of spots. Unfortunately, a shortage of daycare spots in the Province of Quebec, especially in Montreal, makes it sometimes difficult for parents to be able to choose the right daycare solution freely. Don’t worry, there are strategies and tips to maximize your chances.

Next week, we will tell you everything you need to know to find the right daycare provider despite the shortage of spots, so that you and your children can face relocation serenely. You can also read our very helpful article about relocating with children.

For more information, you can visit the Ministry of Family website (in French). We wish you good reflection in the meanwhile!

And remember to check out our Online Relocation Guides, jammed packed with more useful, local knowledge like this, to make relocating easier and more successful for everyone.

Photo credits: Unsplash

About the Author:

I founded ARIANNE Relocation Canada in 1997 in order to assist families relocating to Montreal, and then all over Canada. I have a lot of advice and stories to share about how to successfully move and relocate to Canada! If I can be of help please contact me at manon@ariannerelocation.com

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