Parents of students in remote learning don't have to pay childcare fees: minister
WINNIPEG -- With students in Winnipeg and Brandon officially in remote learning, the province said parents of these students will not have to pay for their unused childcare spaces.
On Wednesday afternoon, Manitoba Families Minister Rochelle Squires said parents of students in Winnipeg and Brandon will not be expected to pay for childcare fees while their children are in remote learning.
Squires said the province is providing up to $1.9 million to offset childcare sector losses specifically in before-and-after-school programs, and cover school-aged parent fees.
The province said early learning and childcare facilities will be given a grant equal to the parent fees for the children who are not allowed to attend their before-and-after-school programs due to the shift to online learning.
Squires said the province is contacting the affected childcare centres with information and an application form, along with a declaration saying they have not charged parent fees or will reimburse the parent fees if they already charged them.
Squires said parents will not lose their childcare spaces during this time.
THE TWO EXCEPTIONS FOR BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMMING
The Families Minister said if critical service workers have made arrangements for their children to continue with in-school learning, then they can still access their before and after-school childcare programs.
Families of children with special needs who are continuing with in-school learning will also be able to access their before and after-school childcare programs.
"Those are the only two exceptions in Winnipeg and Brandon for attendance in before and after-school programming," Squires said.
"All other parents that had before and after-school programming for school-aged children in Winnipeg or Brandon – that service is being discontinued until May 30."
PROVINCIAL SUPPORT IS A 'WIN-WIN SITUATION': CHILD CARE ASSOCIATION
Jodie Kehl, the executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association, said Squires' announcement is exactly what the association had been calling for.
She said the move is equally beneficial for families and childcare facilities.
"I think it is really a win-win situation that we heard this afternoon," Kehl. "I know that the sector will be very welcoming of this."
Kehl said she hopes the support will continue if remote learning is extended into June.
Squires said there will be further discussions about more funding if remote learning is extended.
NEW PPE FUNDING FOR EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE
The province said it is putting an additional $415,000 per month for personal protective equipment for early learning and childcare workers.
Squires said this funding will increase the monthly allocation of masks to 1.1 million so each childcare worker will have four daily masks instead of one. She said the province is also upgrading the masks to Level 3 medical grade.
"We want to keep our childcare workers and children and families safe," she said.