Kinew: Protect Child Care Spaces in Schools

July 17, 2020

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB – Wab Kinew, Leader of the Official Opposition, is calling on the provincial government to commit to protecting childcare centres as the province plans for the return of school in the fall.

“Childcare is essential to Manitoba’s return to work and school plan. Parents need access to spots in order to go back to work and schools must be able to accommodate on-site spaces,” said Kinew. “With the deadline of August 1 to finalize plans for schooling in the Fall, the province must ensure childcare centres do not lose access to space in schools. The province needs to show leadership and make sure no childcare program will be displaced from schools, or have their access reduced, this coming year – and they need to invest the necessary resources to make this happen.”

Many school-aged childcare programs operate programs in gyms, classrooms or other spaces in schools. Though they share a site, the childcare programs are operated separately from the school. As schools begin to prepare a restart of activities in September, childcare providers, workers and parents want assurances that programs will not lose the space they need to operate or will be provided with supports to maintain spots for children if necessary.

Brenda Still, an Early Childhood Educator and Supervisor of K.I.D.S. Inc in Winnipeg, says the Minister must guarantee that no childcare program will be displaced from schools come September. “Parents rely on our programming and we know keeping childcare spaces in schools is vital to the full return of Manitoba’s education system,” said Still. “The Minister must guarantee that roll-away programs like ours are able to continue operating without interruption, whether that be by protecting the spaces we use or by giving schools and centres additional supports so that families can continue to receive the essential childcare they need.”

Kinew recently wrote to the Minister of Education expressing his concerns. He has not received a response.

Kinew also noted that throughout the pandemic, the Pallister government created chaos and confusion for parents and Early Childhood Educators. They refused to make up for lost parents fees, forcing centres to layoff staff, and they spent just $40,000 of the $18 million in emergency funding they promised for the sector. He urged the Minister to work with childcare providers to ensure Manitoba parents can access affordable, quality childcare.