January 12, 2016
PROVINCE RELEASES ROAD MAP TOWARD CREATING UNIVERSALLY ACCESSIBLE CHILD CARE– – –
Plan Includes Lower Fees, 12,000 More Spaces, Better Wages, More Training: Premier Selinger
The province is taking the next steps in creating a universally accessible child-care system for Manitoba families that will include lower fees, 12,000 more spaces, increased training and better wages for early childhood educators, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.
We are committed to ensuring families who need child care will have access to high-quality, licensed, affordable and publicly funded spaces," Premier Selinger said. "At the same time, we will be supporting good wages and training opportunities for the workforce and an early learning curriculum that enriches children and reaches underserved areas."
The premier said the province is basing its long-term strategy on the report released today by the Early Learning and Child Care Commission. The premier said the plan includes:
Premier Selinger said the province will explore a key proposal by the commission that school divisions be responsible for school-age child care. Seven Oaks and Seine River school divisions will work with government to pilot expanded child-care programming for school-age children, the premier added.
Independent consultants Kathleen Flanagan and Jane Beach completed the Early Learning and Child Care Commission's analysis of Manitoba's current child-care system and proposed innovative strategies to build a universally accessible ELCC system.
"It has been our pleasure to conduct this extensive review of Manitoba's early learning and child-care programs and provide input on the province's strategic plan for growth," said Flanagan. "We look forward to seeing how the Manitoba government can further address the challenges and issues in the early learning and child-care system and build upon past success."
I commend the province for recognizing most young families need accessible and affordable early learning and child-care spaces," said Pat Wege, executive director, Manitoba Child Care Association. "Our province recently announced an exciting vision to establish a universally available system of high-quality, community-based programs for our very youngest citizens. Moving forward will be a challenge but the report from the Early Learning and Child Care Commission is now complete and our province has the roadmap we need to successfully create 12,000 new spaces."
"Seven Oaks School Division welcomes the opportunity to work with the province so that more parents can access quality before- and after-school child care in our schools. It makes sense for families and for schools," said Brian O'Leary, superintendent, Seven Oaks School Division.
The premier said the measures announced today will result in the creation of 12,000 new spaces in public buildings, such as schools, post-secondary institutions, housing developments, health and social-services facilities, and where other childhood development services are located.
Premier Selinger also announced $25 million in new funding to be dedicated to building and expanding early learning and child-care centres in schools.
The premier said 308 new spaces are being supported through the Family Choices Building fund as part of the commitment to fund 900 new spaces this year, including:
"A core part of our mission at the University of Winnipeg is to support non-traditional learners, including adults with families. Having affordable day-care spaces that are easily accessible right on our campus is a critically important part of that support," said Dr. Annette Trimbee, president and vice-chancellor, UWinnipeg. "We are pleased to be expanding the UWSA day-care centre, which serves our students as well as the surrounding community."
"The University of Winnipeg's Student Association Day Care is the reason I was able to return to University," said Kim Bhathal-Paz, third-year student, integrated education program. "I am so excited for all the possibilities that will flow from the expansion plans that will provide positive changes in the lives of both students and their families."
Funding for affordable, public child care has nearly tripled to $162.9 million since 1999, now supporting more than 33,100 spaces, the premier said. In this time, the province established a capital building fund, introduced a pension plan, increased wages for early childhood educators, introduced age-appropriate curricula and enhanced quality programming for pre-school children.
"We thank the commission for its recommendations and look forward to working with schools, parents, child-care providers and the federal government to protect our public, non-profit child-care model," said Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross. "We know that by investing in early childhood education and child care, more hard-working families will get the supports they need and our children will thrive."
The minister added that as part of commitments under Family Choices to ensure a consistent and user-friendly child-care system, the Manitoba government has launched a redeveloped early learning and child-care website, making it easier for families, early learning and child-care providers, and students and the workforce to find the information they need quickly and easily. The website will continue to be enhanced to meet the needs of users, Minister Irvin-Ross said.
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