Quality, affordable child care is important to Manitoba families, and our government is continuing to invest strategically to improve the accessibility to child care spaces across the province. We have increased our investment in community, school and home-based projects this year by $2.7 million to open a total of 1,600 new spaces for children. We are also increasing operating grants to home-based child care providers by 70 per cent, by 68 per cent for pre-school children and by 15 per cent for school-aged kids in incremental steps over four years.
Since forming government in 2016, we have been committed to improving access to quality child care in more communities and reducing wait lists that were previously allowed to climb into the thousands. By March 31, 2020, our government will have assisted in opening 3,195 new child care spaces in Manitoba. Under the NDP, far too many families struggled with a shortage of quality and affordable child care. Our government was elected to repair the services Manitobans depend on, and we are significantly improving access to the child care they need.
Our government is also continuing to implement the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, and is projecting all standards being in place by 2020 - much earlier than the act’s stipulated deadline of 2023.
Compliance has been good, with 80 per cent of provincial government agencies, boards and commissions deemed to have accessibility plans in place. In addition, 97 per cent of Manitoba Hydro employees, between 80 and 90 per cent of Winnipeg Regional Health Authority staff and 61 per cent of Manitoba civil servants have received customer service training. Since taking office in 2016, our government has passed four customer service standards with an average of one per year, and will continue to remove barriers and make Manitoba more inclusive for everyone.
Our government has kept its promises and commitments to Manitobans. We have reduced the provincial sales tax, saving families hundreds of dollars a year. We have reduced the provincial deficit by more than half, getting us closer to balanced budgets. And we have made investments in community projects, as well as in addictions and mental health services. Our Progressive Conservative government is committed to standing up against the federal government’s carbon tax, and will continue fighting to make life more affordable for Manitobans.