Manitoba has signed on to a federal plan to provide daycare at an average cost of $10 a day in regulated child-care spaces starting next year.
Under the plan, the federal government promises to spend $1.2 billion to fund early learning and child care in Manitoba over the next five years.
“It is no exaggeration to say that this is the largest child-care deal ever struck by the province of Manitoba in its nearly 151 year history,” Manitoba Families Minister Rochelle Squires said at a news conference announcing the plan Monday.
Federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen and Squires made the announcement at the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg in Westwood.
“This is the result of really hard work on both sides — the result of frank conversations, compromises, making sure that we’re listening to each other, making sure we learned about the special circumstances of the early-learning and child-care sector in Manitoba,” Hussen said.
Parents of young children, particularly women, have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and now that much of the economy is reopening, they are facing “the impossible choice of either staying at home to take care of their kids or going back to work and paying very high child-care fees and fighting for those hard-to-get child-care spaces,” he said.
The plan will cut costs for families by 50 per cent for children up to six years old in regulated child care by the end of the year, the two governments said in a news release.
It will also create another 23,000 full-time regulated care spaces by the end of the 2025-26 fiscal year, the news release said. An additional 1,700 extended-hour spaces will also be created, for parents needing child care in the evenings and on weekends.
In addition to cutting costs for parents, the plan aims to create culturally inclusive child care for all children, particularly Indigenous children, Hussen said.
The funding will also be used to improve pay and training for early childhood educators, Hussen said.
“I’m talking about providing early childhood educators with good pay that is reflective of their training and their skills … so that more people can choose to not only become early childhood educators but continue to be early childhood educators.”
The federal Liberals pledged to create a universal child-care system in their throne speech last September as a way to help more women return to and enter the workforce, after their numbers dropped during the pandemic.
With the deal between Manitoba and the federal government, nearly 50 per cent of Canadian families are now covered by the federal program, Hussen said.