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Manitoba government to spend $22 million to improve child care options

Click to play video: 'Child care funding' Child care funding
The province announcing additional support to expand child care options for parents. Marney Blunt reports – Aug 26, 2020

The Manitoba government is spending $22 million to add 1,400 child care spaces and offer more options to parents who need extra flexibility.

“We know that Manitoba parents simply can’t go back to work if they don’t have access to quality child care,” Families Minister Heather Stefanson said.

“Whether you are working full time at an industrial park, working part-time in the service industry or going back to school to improve your skills in the labour markets, our government wants to ensure you have access to child care that will meet your needs.”

Read more: Questions remain on child care as Manitoba unveils plans to reopen economy

The funding — which is a mix of new money and reallocated spending — includes $8.5 million for new programs aimed at supporting under-served families where parents may work non-traditional hours and improving the sustainability of child care providers in the long term.

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Those initiatives will be run in partnership with the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

Another $4 million has been earmarked to help workplaces offer on-site child care services through $5,000 start-up grants. The province estimates this could create up to 800 new spaces.

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There is $1.5 million set aside for grants to home-based child care providers — to the tune of up to $50,000 per provider — while $2 million has been allocated for child care providers to set up satellite locations in an effort to help promote physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we respond to the pandemic together, our government will continue to support the sector through regular communication by Dr. Roussin and other public health officials,” Minister Stefanson said.

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“We will continue to invest in personal protective equipment to keep our children and early childhood educators safe.”

“We have provided the sector with over 25,000 individual PPE items to date, and there’s more to come.”

The province is also set to spend up to $750,000 on helping community groups develop more diverse child care options and $250,000 on marketing campaigns to help child care providers fill available spaces.

The Manitoba government is allocating $9.5 million for the new Child Care Sustainability Trust, which launches in March 2021, to improve infrastructure at child care facilities and enhance staff development.

Another $4.7 million will go towards expanding the Child Care Centre Development Tax Credit, which is aimed at supporting workplace child care centres for up to 682 children.

Read more: Coronavirus: Manitoba daycare workers ‘treated like garbage’ say early childhood educators

On Monday the federal and provincial government announced more than $15 million in additional funding through their Canada-Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.

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The money is for early learning and child care investments this year and in 2021, and will also be used to create a one-time, $1.5-million response grant for facilities that reopened during the pandemic, the two levels of government said.

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Read more: 77 Manitoba daycares open, but mixed messages lead to ‘chaos, confusion’: providers

The head of the Manitoba Child Care Association told 680 CJOB Monday the funding was “welcome news” but she worries more is needed as childcare centres deal with increased vacancies during COVID-19.

“We continue to call on the province to increase remuneration for all educators, both in the home and in the centres,” Jodie Kehl said, adding child care providers are facing extra costs associated with opening during the ongoing pandemic.

Kehl said there are about 21,000 child care spaces in some 900 facilities across Manitoba with around 3,500 spaces currently vacant — which is resulting in a loss of parent fees for child care centres across the province.

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