Province using $22M to make more child care options in Manitoba
WINNIPEG -- The Province of Manitoba is using $22 million to improve and create new child care options, including satellite locations and home-based care, for parents returning to work.
On Wednesday Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced the provincial dollars, which will come from new and reallocated funds.
Stefanson said the supply of child care is exceeding the demand, which she said is unprecedented. She said there are about currently 3,500 childcare spaces that are available right now, but she said that may change as more parents head back to work.
"We need to ensure that we are prepared for that," Stefanson said. "We need to expand the number of child care spaces that are available in the province."
As a part of this funding, Stefanson said $8.5 million will go towards new grant programs.
- up to $4 million for workplaces to offer on-site child care services for their employees, expected to create up to 800 new spaces through a $5,000-per-space start-up grant;
- up to $1.5 million in grants to home-based child care providers, to enhance their child care spaces, support financial stability and help ensure new spaces, to a maximum of $50,000 per provider;
- up to $2 million for licensed child care providers to establish satellite locations, which will help support their ongoing operations and physical distancing requirements as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response;
- up to $750,000 for community organizations to develop more diverse child care options to meet the needs of their families, which could reflect different cultures, languages and accessibility needs; and
- up to $250,000 to help ensure child care providers participating in these programs can find and retain families to fill available spaces, through a comprehensive marketing plan.
The announcement was made in partnership with the Manitoba and Winnipeg Chambers of Commerce. The chambers said they will be providing business advice for new child-care start-ups.
The province said it estimates this new funding will create child care spaces for more than 1,400 children.
"We know that Manitoba parents simply can't go back to work if they don't have access to quality childcare," Stefanson said.
More information about these new programs can be found online. Applications will be posted and begin being accepted on Sept. 1.
PROVINCE EXPANDING CHILD CARE TAX CREDIT
Stefanson said the province will also be allocating $9.5 million to the new Child Care Sustainability Trust, which is scheduled to launch in March 2021. The trust will be used to support projects at child care facilities, including programming and infrastructure improvements, equipment, and professional development and learning opportunities for staff.
The province also announced on Wednesday that it would commit $4.7 million in new funding to expand the Child Care Centre Development Tax Credit.
The expanded tax credit program will be used to support more employer-based child care centres.
More information about the tax credit can be found on the province's website.
MANITOBA LIBERALS, NDP SAY MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE
Manitoba Liberals and NDP said the announcement is not doing enough to address the needs of childcare in the province.
"It is hard to imagine a program more useless to the needs of parents, children and early childhood education than what was announced by the PCs today," said Liberal leader Dougald Lamont in a statement.
"It makes no sense for the government to pay businesses that have nothing to do with child care to suddenly start managing funds to operate child care centres."
Manitoba's NDP childcare critic, Danielle Adams, said the announcement is another move towards privatization at a time when there is higher demand for childcare.
"There are more children on waitlists than ever before," Adams said in a statement. "The PC government needs to treat childcare as an essential service and invest in public, non-profit childcare centres in order to create safe, healthy, and affordable spaces for all families."
Both Lamont and Adams said the province has only used $40,000 of a previously announced $18 million fund for child care.