Manitoba kids to return to childcare and day camp programs in July
WINNIPEG -- When the school year ends in Manitoba, kids will be able to attend childcare programs and day camps.
Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced on Friday that these programs will be allowed to start operating on July 1.
"We know that a parent's ability to work may be dependent upon the availability of child care," said Squires.
The province said the day camps will be for children 11 and under and it helps families whose children aren't at licensed facilities.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, the deputy chief provincial public health officer, said these steps are possible because more Manitobans are being vaccinated and case numbers are going down.
"We're providing this information today to allow sites and parents to begin planning. More details will follow next week as new public health orders are finalized. This will help alleviate some of the pressure on licensed childcare facilities," said Atwal.
The cohort sizes will not be changing for childcare facilities but day camps will be limited to sizes of 20.
Atwal was asked what would happen if there are COVID-19 outbreaks at these camps or facilities.
"Whenever an outbreak occurs, a public health investigation is done, we are aware of the cases that occur there. Pending that investigation, we have to look at risk and what the risk is to the population that is there, and also to the population that might be not there, or to the general public. So if announcements are required, public health will lead that."
He said all these steps would apply to day camps as well and if an outbreak occurs, public health would take steps to mitigate any further spread.
Karen Kowalski, the assistant executive director for the Manitoba Child Care Association, said in an email to CTV News that this was something they were expecting.
She said facilities are well prepared to ensure all the kids are safe.
"The child care facilities have been following protocols for over 15 months now so they will keep doing what they have been doing while keeping everyone safe,' said Kowalski.
She said she has spoken with some directors and they are happy about the news as this will bring some normalcy back to the children's lives.
"For those parents who have been at home, may now be able to return to the workplace as their children will be able to return to their child care program."
She added she thinks kids miss their friends and this will help make life feel more normal for them.