Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB - Manitoba Liberals were joined by Child Care Advocates to demand that the PCs reverse proposed changes to Early Childhood Education that will further undermine the sector in Manitoba. The Manitoba Liberals said the PCs are proposing a series of regulatory changes that will be devastating to the sector, including cuts to grants, creating a "two-tier" system, and redefining job classifications to devalue the work of early childhood educators.
"Access to childcare is one of the biggest obstacles right now to parents going back to work. What we need is affordable, accessible, and quality childcare that will make our economic recovery stronger," said Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Tyndall Park and Manitoba Liberal Early Learning and Child Care critic. "Children deserve to be in safe places, educators deserve their titles, and parents deserve the ability to go to work while their children are being educated and taken care of."
While consistently calling childcare workers heroes throughout the pandemic, the PCs are undermining the sector and failing to address critical areas that would improve care for children and fairly compensate the people who work in ECE.
Under the Pallister PCs, the waitlist for childcare has exploded to more than 16 000, wages are substandard, and operating grants have been frozen. Most recently, the PCs are proposing a series of changes to regulations that would scrap the Enhanced Nursery School Operating Grant and take the cap off parent fees. The changes the PCs are proposing to make will make child care less accessible for those who can least afford it.
Manitoba Liberals are calling on the province to:
1. Recognize the educational importance of Early Learning and Child Care by moving it from the Department of Families to the Department of Education. This will ensure a better continuous educational experience for all Manitoba children.
2. Recognize the value of ECE professionals, who are trained to work with children and detect developmental disabilities, with better wages. Many ECE workers cannot pay the bills and there is lots of turnover in the system because they have to leave for better paid work.
3. Cancel the failed $18-million program to create home child care centres and use it to support existing child care centres instead.
Earlier this spring, the PCs announced an $18-million program to provide $3,000 grants to anyone wishing to start their own home ECE centre. The uptake on the fund was only 0.01%, or $40,000 in grants, leaving 99.99% of the original fund untouched.
"With long wait lists and staff burnout, Early Childhood Education in Manitoba was already in a crisis before the pandemic," said Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface. "Instead of trying to set up new home day cares, the PCs should support the system that we already have, and make sure it is affordable, because too many parents were already at their limit before this crisis."
The last day to submit comments on the new regulations is tomorrow, Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at: https://reg.gov.mb.ca/detail/2937833