With a provincial election just over three months away, Manitoba’s NDP Government continues to roll out spending announcements.
The latest target on the Selinger Government’s radar was childcare as the premier announced an ambitious plan on Tuesday that includes 12,000 new spaces by 2021.
The strategy is based on a report released by a child care advisory panel.
It also includes a promise to phase out the $2-a-day fee for low income families.
Premier Greg Selinger also announced fees for other families would be lowered so people do not have to spend no more than 10 per cent of their income on daycare.
“You take a look at what people’s incomes are and you try to make sure that the wage scale reflects that,” said Selinger at the announcement on Tuesday.
Other promises include setting up a minimum wage scale for child care workers; working with colleges and universities to double training opportunities for child-care workers; and explore the idea of school divisions taking responsibility for school-age child care. Seven Oaks and Seine River school divisions have signed on to take part in a pilot project.
Selinger could not provide a cost estimate, but expected to be ‘tens of millions of dollars’.
“I commend the province for recognizing most young families need accessible and affordable early learning and child-care spaces,” said Pat Wege, executive director of Manitoba Child Care Association. “Moving forward will be a challenge, but the report from the Early Learning and Child Care Commission is now complete and our province has the roadmap we need to successfully create 12,000 new spaces.”
However, Wege points out they will need to keep track of Manitoba’s growing population and whether 12,000 spaces is enough.
“One of the recommendations in the commission report is for better research,” said Wege. “Right now we don’t really know everything we need to know in order to move forward.”