Province recognizes childcare access as key to economic growth

Announcements from the province about new government incentives to help rebuild the local economy have been prolific in recent months. On January 17, Premier Heather Stefanson outlined the key role she says that childcare plays in economic growth.

“Our government continues to be a national leader in providing affordable childcare services, which is critical to ensuring Manitobans can participate in the workforce, support their family, and play an active role in the growth of our communities and economy,” Stefanson said.

The Tuesday morning announcement came in direct response to a recent commitment made to the Brandon YMCA for an additional $600,000 investment in their childcare centre.

This brings the provincial investment in that particular project to a total of $1.2 million after an initial investment of $600,000 was committed last July as part of Early Learning and Childcare Building Fund collaboration.

The provincial building fund initiative provides capital grant funding for childcare centre development projects across the province. In recent months, the government restructured the program to fund 60 percent of project construction costs, up from 40 percent last year.

“This change will enable more spaces to be developed and improve access to licensed early learning and childcare programs for all children, regardless of where they live,” said Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko. “Working with our federal and sector partners, we remain committed to strengthening the system and ensuring affordable, accessible childcare is available for Manitoba families.”

While the Brandon announcement highlighted funding that comes directly from the province, it coincides with the federal government’s mandate to create an additional 23,000 full-time care spaces across the country by 2026. At the same time, the feds intend to reduce childcare costs for parents to an average of $10 per day per daycare space.

The provincial and federal governments have partnered on a number of childcare initiatives in 2022, including the Canada-Manitoba Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and the extended Canada-Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.

Childcare investment promises to date include an almost $37 million in wage equity support for early learning childcare staff, as well as just over $4 million in tuition subsidies.

An additional $6.6 million will help facility directors recruit and retain staff.

Another $1 million in funding has been committed to a pilot project in Winnipeg which will help newcomers find reliable childcare and maintain employment.

Finally, $70 million in capital funding is dedicated to the creation of new childcare facilities with a focus on rural and First Nations communities.

Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen