Even in the midst of a pandemic, the Pallister government continues to make access to affordable childcare harder for Manitobans, as demonstrated in their 2021 budget. Rather than investing in childcare, the government spent $600,000 on the KPMG report even as the waitlist for childcare has increased by 30 per cent since they’ve taken office. The number of children on the list has skyrocketed from 14,847 in July of 2016 to 18,903 children as of August 2020. The budget does nothing to remedy this situation, and actually makes choices that will hurt Manitoban children and their parents such as freezing funding to Children’s Disability Services and continuing to freeze funding to childcare centres.
There are other troubling changes to childcare coming to Manitoba, including the recently released KPMG report on childcare and Bill 47 – the Early Learning and Child Care Act.
The KPMG report puts forward many worrisome recommendations. Rather than the government directly investing in childcare spaces, the report recommends that the government move towards a business model for childcare and become a “market steward.” It also recommends increasing parent fees and moving away from the operating grant funding model.
Currently only non-profit centres can receive public funding, but Bill 47 allows private centres to receive public funding as well, thereby opening the door to privatization of childcare in Manitoba. This is a major mistake. Our public centres are already being starved by this government, and this will only decrease access to quality care.
Every study on childcare demonstrates that for-profit incentives lead to worse standards of care and declining quality – there really is no debate on this. This bill may also allow for childcare workers to only do one year of training rather than the current two years, and there is no commitment that the ratio of qualified two-year early childhood educators to kids will not be changed. This change is concerning, as it may lead to a decline in quality. The Pallister government should not be diverting money away from our children and towards for-profit centres, they should withdraw Bill 47 and listen to Manitobans.
We know that the pandemic has been especially hard for parents. If the government wants to help Manitoba’s eventual economic recovery post-COVID, they should invest in affordable non-profit childcare spaces so that parents – especially women – can easily return to work rather than wasting money on expensive reports.
Feel free to contact me with any concerns at Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling me at 204-677-2744.