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$10-a-day daycare in Manitoba raising demand for staff and lengthening wait-lists

Click to play video: '$10-a-day daycare in Manitoba raising demand for staff and lengthening wait-lists'
$10-a-day daycare in Manitoba raising demand for staff and lengthening wait-lists
$10-a-day daycare in Manitoba raising demand for staff and lengthening wait-lists – Nov 7, 2023

Bright Beginnings for Kids daycare centre is licensed for 64 spaces, but its wait-list is sitting at more than 500 children. This is the narrative for daycares across Manitoba.

“There’s infants on here that haven’t even been born yet,” executive director Wendy McKnight said, adding she is constantly having to turn parents away.

“It’s hard when you hear a parent phoning you and crying, saying they need daycare because they’re starting a job next week and what are they going to do?”

Some parents are putting themselves on multiple wait-lists, like Krystin Okano, who is trying to find space for her 19-month-old — and has been since she was three months pregnant.

“When she was born, they still had daycares that could set their own rates and everything. And then they brought in the $10 a day, which is fantastic, unless you can’t get into one,” she said.

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Ten-dollar-a-day child care came to Manitoba in April, but there isn’t enough space or educators to meet the demand.

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“It’s very disheartening,” McKnight said.

Jodie Kehl from the Manitoba Childcare Association says in order to fill the 23,000 spaces promised under a Canada-wide agreement by 2026, Manitoba would need 3,000 more early childhood educators (ECEs).

“A recent report that came out last week is speculating that to graduate that many ECEs in Manitoba, based on current graduation rates, might take as long as 18 years.”

Kehl stresses that to maintain the quality of care, daycare centres need greater and more consistent funding to cover increased costs, and especially to pay staff competitively.

Minister of Early Childhood Learning Nello Altomare promises the government will be looking to build in more training capacity in colleges.

“We’re up for that challenge, and we’re going to be working with all our partners in the sector, especially the Manitoba Childcare Association (for) guidance, and with our post-secondary institutions as well, so we can get more trained people into the field.”

Altomare says listening, creating more spaces and communicating with stakeholders in the sector will be important moving forward.

But the problem will take time to solve, and McKnight is hoping she can keep her staff in the meantime.

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“If I have one of my trained staff leave, how am I going to fill that position? What if I don’t get another trained staff? What if they left for another centre that’s paying a little bit more?”

McKnight says if you’re looking for child care, go to the Manitoba Child Care Search website and see what’s in your area.

with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

Click to play video: 'Manitoba childcare facilities need the staff in place in order to fill new positions, facility director says'
Manitoba childcare facilities need the staff in place in order to fill new positions, facility director says

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