Manitoba joins $10-per-day federal daycare plan

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Manitoba joins $10-per-day federal daycare plan
The province of Manitoba has signed on to the federal government’s $10-per-day child-care plan. Will Reimer reports – Aug 9, 2021

The province of Manitoba has signed on to the federal government’s $10-per-day child-care plan.

Manitoba will receive $1.2 billion over five years in the agreement with the aim of $10-per-day per child daycare by 2023 for children six and under.

Ahmed Hussen, federal families minister, joined by Manitoba’s Families Minister Rochelle Squires and Kent Paterson, CEO of the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg, made the announcement at the YMCA-YWCA on Portage Avenue Monday.

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

The plan will also aim to create an additional 23,000 spaces with 1,700 extended-hour spaces in the province, said Hussen.

“There’s absolutely more that can be done” in terms of making child-care spaces available for families, he added.

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He also said the money will be used for better wages for child-care workers.

“This is the largest child-care deal ever struck by the province of Manitoba in its 150-year history,” said Squires.

“This is a good news deal for the kids, and it’s good news for the early learning child-care providers.”

Squires said she anticipates Manitoba will be the first province to reach the $10-per-day average for kids six and under before any other province due to the province’s already low fees.

The province will set a wage threshold of $25 per hour for workers who have their Early Childhood Educator II classification, she added. Workers without the classification may also see their wages increase.

Hussen said each agreement with the provinces is unique, and Manitoba’s is no different.

“We’ve always said that we’re supporting all the regulated spaces,” he said, adding that the for-profit sector has to be part of the solution, but this agreement was for regulated spaces to start with.

Global News had previously confirmed the plan to join the agreement, which has already been signed in several provinces.

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Kyra Harrison says she and her husband are currently paying $40 per day to send their one-year-old daughter to daycare in Grunthal.

She says paying $10 a day instead would mean they’re able to work more, earn more, and have better opportunities at work.

“You have to kind of rule out whether or not it’s worth (going to work), and I’m the one who has been staying home a lot more with her so I’m passing up opportunities and more income because it just doesn’t make sense some days to put her in daycare and go to work,” Harrison said.

“You can get a lot further ahead when two parents can work. You can have that double income, and when you’re paying 30, 40 bucks a day for daycare plus gas and everything else and having to work around their schedule too, it makes it really hard.”

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Harrison adds her daughter attends daycare two days a week, and she’s currently discussing with her boss how many more hours she would have to work to have her daughter in daycare one extra day and come out ahead financially.

A switch to $10 a day would give her “flexibility where I wouldn’t feel like I have to work an eight to twelve hour day to make it worth it. Having her in five days a week but even shorter days, it still would be cheaper than what I’m paying now,” Harrison said.

“I think this is awesome. I’m excited for this.”

Conservative workforce development and disability inclusion critic Raquel Dancho, however, took exception to the announcement.

“The Liberals have made child-care promises in eight previous elections since 1993 and they have consistently broken every one,” she said.

“Trudeau waited six years into his mandate to make these announcements on child care and it’s no surprise that this comes before a possible election.”

Click to play video: 'Challenges being faced by Manitoba daycares'
Challenges being faced by Manitoba daycares

Manitoba’s daycare plan is already one of the lowest in the country, behind only Quebec. Still, the plan could see significant savings for local parents — with fees of $10 per day, Manitoba families could see yearly savings of about $3,900 per child.

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Parents with the youngest children would save the most, as they are currently charged the most.

“A national child-care plan targeting fees will deliver more savings to parents than a tax credit or a monthly cheque ever could,” said David Macdonald, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Read more: How much parents across Canada could save per year with the national child-care plan

But reducing fees isn’t enough to keep the system healthy and to make sure there are enough spaces, he added.

“Reducing fees must be part of a broader plan, one that includes capital funding for more spaces but it must also include higher wages for child-care workers to attract and retain them as the system expands,” Macdonald said.

Whether parents will actually gain access to affordable child care also hinges on significant increases in the number of child-care spots to accommodate an expected increase in demand for cheaper daycare and preschool care.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba daycare centres prepare for reopening, increased capacity limits, and strict guidelines'
Manitoba daycare centres prepare for reopening, increased capacity limits, and strict guidelines

Without additional resources, a reduction in fees would likely lead to ballooning wait-lists for families, Macdonald said.

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Critics of the Liberals’ plan have pointed to the expected cost to taxpayers. The Trudeau government has promised to spend $30 billion over five years to set up the plan and cut fees.

They also say the plan would curtail choice for parents, imposing a national, homogeneous child-care system.

—With files from Erica Alini

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