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Government uses scissors on red tape covering daycare centres

MIKE APORIUS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Families Minister Scott Fielding introduced the Child Care Standards Amendment Act Wednesday.</p>

MIKE APORIUS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Families Minister Scott Fielding introduced the Child Care Standards Amendment Act Wednesday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/11/2017 (979 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A new act aims to cut red tape at child-care centres.

Families Minister Scott Fielding introduced the Child Care Standards Amendment Act Wednesday, declaring he will slash red tape without lowering quality and safety standards in child care.

Centres with a good track record would face licence renewal every three years instead of annually; there would be no more duplication among regulations; and the province could step in to take over a centre for up to 90 days if a parent board runs into problems.

Manitoba is close to a signing a new child-care deal with the federal government that will see more centres open, so the new act will help streamline the process, Fielding said.

"You can start child-care centres and have them run a little more efficiently," he said.

NDP leader Wab Kinew accused Fielding of planning to remove codes of conduct, the requirement to follow the Human Rights Code, safety plans and allergy plans.

"We know this government is obsessed with red tape," Kinew said.

Fielding disagreed, noting all child-care centre protections will remain, but will no longer be duplicated.

Manitoba Child Care Association executive director Pat Wege gave a cautious thumbs up.

"What's on the table for right now makes sense," said Wege.

The MCCA was consulted before the bill was written, but Wege didn't know if all the association's concerns made the final cut.

"We'll know when we see the regulations," she said, adding the child/staff ratio, training and staff-size requirements must remain.

The bill does not provide the funding necessary to recruit and retain staff, and it calls employees "child-care workers" rather than the "early childhood educators"' the MCCA wants, Wege said.

The act means provincial staff will spend less time dealing with operators who have good record of complying with standards, to concentrating on daycare operators who need help.

It's a good move that allows the province to step in to work with boards made up of parents who may not have the skills to take on what can be significant responsibilities, Wege said.

The current waiting list for daycare spaces is more than 16,500 children., Wege said. Fielding has emphasized an expansion of home-based daycares as a government priority; already, more than 300 home-based daycares belong to MCCA, Wege said.

The bill will eventually go to public hearings.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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