Budget a ‘missed opportunity’ to support women, families: child care association

Children's backpacks and shoes are seen at a child care centre. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Manitoba’s budget, released Wednesday, includes frozen fees for child care for the next three years, but the executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association says the province missed an opportunity to make a strong show of support for Manitoba women.

“At first glance… the province’s budget falls short of what the existing sector needs. I think it’s a missed opportunity to support women — not to mention that in the Manitoba workforce, in early learning/child care, 97 per cent (of workers are) female,” said Kehl.

“We know COVID has had a disproportionate effect on women — our federal government has talked about the amplifying of systemic challenges like job loss, poverty, and balancing home life.

“Here (was) the chance to fix it and balance the economy at the same time.”

Read more: Manitoba’s child care legislation overlooks financial needs of day care workers, association says

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Kehl called child care ‘the missing piece’ to Manitoba’s recovery, and that the province needs to invest in the system to support women, children and families.

The University of Manitoba’s Janice Compton said the frozen fees are ‘wonderful’ for families — provided they can actually find the necessary childcare spaces to enroll their children.

“That is a key area that I don’t think was addressed in the budget,” Compton told 680 CJOB Wednesday afternoon.

“I think one of the areas that is growing is to have a gender focus in the budget, and that was missing here entirely.

Click to play video: '2021 Manitoba budget reaction' 2021 Manitoba budget reaction
2021 Manitoba budget reaction – Apr 7, 2021

“We need specific funding for women and for the industries that women are primarily involved in — healthcare, education… these caring areas, where women are not only working in these areas but also have to bear the second burden at home.”

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Compton said she would have also liked to see an increase in the number of nurses — another job primarily staffed by women — to give that existing workforce a break from pandemic stress.

“Having that area grow will help those who are currently in that industry, so they will have time to take off and to relieve that stress,” she said.

“During the pandemic, the burden of care fell primarily on women, and we need to address that.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba finance minister on budget breakdown' Manitoba finance minister on budget breakdown
Manitoba finance minister on budget breakdown – Apr 8, 2021

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