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More $ for high-quality, affordable child care: Manitoba families minister

Representatives from federal and provincial government gathered in Winnipeg Friday to announce new funding for child care and early learning. .
Representatives from federal and provincial government gathered in Winnipeg Friday to announce new funding for child care and early learning. . Jeremy Desrochers / Global News

The federal and provincial governments got together in Winnipeg Friday to announce new funding for child care.

Scott Fielding, Minister of Families for Manitoba, and Dan Vandal, MP for Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, joined other dignitaries at a Morrow Avenue childcare centre in St. Vital to announce an investment of $47 million over three years.

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Fielding said the funds represent a significant investment in early learning and childcare and will, in part, create up to 1,400 new and newly funded child care spaces.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the Government of Canada on our commitment to high-quality, affordable licensed child care that focuses on key areas to better respond to the unique needs of our province,” Fielding said.

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Fielding said $28 million will be specifically spent to support school based and capital projects, which will be announced in the near future, adding that the joint agreement aims to increase quality, accessibility, affordability and flexibility of early learning and child care.

“$1.24 million will be spent on province-wide access to online training, core professional development, membership programs and incentives to grow home-based providers,” Fielding said.

VIEW: Scott Fielding explains the bilateral funding agreement announced Friday

More $ for high-quality, affordable child care: Manitoba families minster
More $ for high-quality, affordable child care: Manitoba families minster

A large element of the plan includes a northern and rural strategy. $2.2 million will be spent over the next three years on assessment programs, building capacity for early childcare education, grants to child care centres, and licencing of a new hybrid model of care in northern Manitoba.

“Probably the most important part,” Fielding said, “is a $10.6 investment in programs for diversity and inclusion to help children with disabilities and autism.”

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Money will also be spent to enhance family reporting and make improvements to the child care registry to fix IT issues.

“It’s a great day here in Manitoba for working families,” Fielding said.

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Speaking on behalf of the federal government, Vandal said that the agreement will help improve access to childcare across Manitoba and will go a long way toward ensuring kids get the best start in life.

“We know that many parents across the country, including right here in Manitoba, struggle with the high and rising costs of childcare and that’s if they can even find available spaces,” Vandal said.

“We believe that every Canadian family should have access to high quality inclusive and affordable childcare, and the reasons are quite simple. We know that children who participate in early childhood learning simply do better in school and in life. We know that the earlier we invest in early learning, the greater the benefits to the children, the parents, to our society and to the economy”.

VIEW: MP Dan Vandal explains the reasoning behind Friday’s funding announcement

Federal governement commits to partner on child care improvements
Federal governement commits to partner on child care improvements

Vandal acknowledged some sobering facts, saying three of four children do not have access to licensed childcare. Many cannot afford it, while others have difficulty finding spaces.

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“This new agreement will deliver better childcare for middle-class families across Manitoba,” Vandal said.

The action plan will aim to strengthen work force stability, recognize the important work of child care providers and provide better access to quality care for low income earners, Indigenous people, newcomers and single-parent families.

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Vandal said an important element of  the plan is a collaborative effort to develop an ‘Indigenous early learning and childcare framework that reflects the unique needs and priorities of First Nations, Inuit and Metis children across the country’.