Manitoba government looking to improve child-care system through new legislation

WINNIPEG — The provincial government is looking to provide more support to child-care programs in Manitoba as well as keep parent fees at a reasonable level while the province rebounds from the economic hardship caused by COVID-19.

The Manitoba PCs are introducing new legislation to help modernize the child-care system and they are looking to freeze fees for three years.

“Bill 47, the Early Learning and Child-care Act, would create more equity in the system and expand supports that better meet the diverse needs of families, especially those most in need of early learning and child-care services,” said Rochelle Squires, the Minister of Families, in a news release.

The proposed legislation has five principles that the province says must be considered when making decisions.

These principles include:

· Ensuring the health, safety, development and well-being of kids in any early learning or child-care services;

· Access to these programs should enhance economic opportunities for parents;

· The services should be available on a continuum so that it meets the needs of all families;

· Inclusion, respect, and accommodating diversity should be part of all programs; and

· The programs should be sustainable and fiscally responsible due to public funding.

The province said the legislation that is in place now limits options for families and the new legislation would provide the opportunity to give more options and it would also require child-care facilities to provide early learning programs.

Squires also noted the new legislation would help parents who work part-time jobs or jobs that don’t have regular hours by providing extended hours and part-time options.

She added the bill would also make it easier for qualified staff to get into the workforce faster.

“Our government appreciates the skills, knowledge and dedication of early childhood educators and child-care assistants in providing high-quality care,” she said. “I especially thank them for continuing to maintain those high standards during the pandemic.”

Under this new legislation, the province said it would still provide grants to licensed facilities, but it would also allow for more flexibility for grants to support modernizing the early learning and child-care system. It would also make it easier for parents to have financial assistance.

Squires said this new legislation is also updating provisions that that were first tabled more than 30 years ago.

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