January 13, 2022
Kinew offers a plan to help centers, ECEs and families stay safe during fourth wave
Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB— The Manitoba NDP is calling on the PC government to support families and Early Childhood Educators by taking tangible steps like providing them with rapid tests and high-quality masks, and offering a pandemic pay bump for ECEs.
“Families with young children are really struggling right now,” said NDP Critic for the Status of Women, Malaya Marcelino. “But it doesn’t have to be this hard. Premier Stefanson said that government can’t protect people but she’s wrong. We believe the PC government has a responsibility to protect families and it starts with making sure every childcare worker and family has access to rapid tests and high-quality masks.”
Throughout the pandemic, childcare centres have felt ignored and disrespected by the PC government, dating back to when Premier Stefanson was Minister of Families and created chaos and confusion in the sector when the pandemic hit.
A recent University of Manitoba survey, that received responses from 332 childcare centres, shows the sector is struggling and in desperate need of government support. Since the omicron variant took hold in Manitoba there have been high numbers of staff testing positive and isolating, as well as cases amongst young children. Unlike Ontario, that has a COVID dashboard listing cases at childcare centres, Manitoba does not tell childcare centres when a child in their care tests positive.
The NDP offered five solutions that will help families, childcare workers and centres make it through the next phase of the pandemic.
Government should provide every childcare worker and family with rapid tests and high quality masks to detect positive cases early and reduce transmission.
Government should upgrade ventilation in every childcare center.
Government should acknowledge the risk that frontline childcare workers face and offer
them a pandemic pay bump as well as actively recruit more staff to offset staffing
Government should offer better financial support to centres that have to close temporarily because of staffing shortages.
• Government should create a dashboard for reporting cases as well as an open-channel of clear and consistent communication with centres and parents.
“Throughout the pandemic, the childcare sector has been repeatedly ignored and families are paying the price,” said Sean Buchanan, parent and Asper School of Business professor. “Getting rapid tests and high-quality masks to childcare workers and families is the safest way to keep childcare centres open. With the vaccine for the youngest children still months away, the provincial government needs to everything it can to keep young children, childcare workers and their families safe.”