The government recently made some changes that will make it harder for many Manitobans to access affordable nursery schools. Currently, nearly two-thirds of the nursery schools in Manitoba get grants to keep parent fees low and keep childcare affordable and accessible. The province has now decided to cut funding to schools that previously received this grant to “level of funding.” This cut is a huge financial loss for centres and means that they will be forced to charge parents up to twice as much under this new model, from $5 to $10 a day, in order to make up the shortfall. In fact, when asked, that’s exactly what this government suggested: increase parent fees to make up the shortfall.
The previous NDP government created the enhanced funding model that provided more money for childcare centres that needed it, helping keep fees at around $5 a day or lower. This low cost helped children receive the care they needed and allowed childcare centres to offer more programming and hire additional staff. These changes garnered praise and made Manitoba a national leader in childcare. Instead of cutting funding, the PCs could have instead increased funding so that all centres received the grant to keep childcare affordable and accessible for all – something the NDP committed to in 2016.
In addition to these new funding cuts, they’ve implemented tax breaks for for-profit childcare centres which will benefit developers who don’t need the money, they’ve frozen childcare funding at 2016 levels, and they’ve underspent the funds they allotted for emergency childcare during the pandemic. And we know more cuts are to come. They’ve introduced but not distributed Bill 47 – The Early Learning and Childcare Act which will implement their yet-to-be-released KPMG report that will lay the groundwork for privatization. These changes will only bring families more financial pain, during a time where they’re already struggling due to the pandemic. Manitoba parents know that there needs to be greater investments made in not-for-profit childcare, not less. It’s time for the Pallister government to listen.
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