Unclear how federal child care promises will translate to Manitoba: province
Published Thursday, March 23, 2017 5:13PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, March 23, 2017 6:11PM CST
The Pallister government said it’s not clear how much of the billions of dollars in child care promises from the newly unveiled federal budget will flow into Manitoba.
Wednesday’s budget pledged $7 billion for child care spending in Canada over the next decade. That includes 40,000 subsidized child care spaces over the next three years.
Families Minister Scott Fielding said they have yet to receive concrete details from the feds on how much of that funding will come to Manitoba.
"One thing that is different is there's a longer commitment in terms of the enhancement of what dollars are there,” Fielding said.
“Again, we need to work with federal officials and our provincial officials to find out what the money is. There will have to be bilateral agreements the have to be struck with the federal government in terms of the process going forward, how the money flows. Are there strings attached?"
The Manitoba Child Care Association said the promise is just a drop in the bucket compared to the growing need for licensed child care spaces in the province.
"We have close to 15,000 names on our online child care registry, so the demand for child care right across the country is through the roof,” said Pat Wege, the association’s executive director.
PARENTAL LEAVE EXTENDED BY END OF 2017
Wednesday’s budget also pledged to extend parental leave from 12 to 18 months with no additional compensation. Expectant mothers can now also claim maternity benefits 12 weeks before their due dates.
The federal government said the option will be available by the end of 2017. The overall changes are set to cost $152 million over five years and $27.5 million a year after that.
University of Manitoba Community Health Sciences Professor Karen Duncan said it’s a step in the right direction, but the change favors higher income families.
"It's still 55 per cent of income for parents who are taking 12 months. It drops to 33 per cent if you're taking that leave for 18 months, so that's a big financial hit for a lot of families,” she said.