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This article was published 2/5/2018 (792 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Many families, whether they are single or two-parent families, struggle to afford child care. Even for those who can afford child care, finding a space close to home or work can be a serious challenge.
Families in Elmwood–Transcona certainly feel that pinch. Unfortunately, little progress has been made in our corner of the city in recent years.
Since the provincial election, northeast Winnipeggers who require childcare have seen little relief. The best news came last summer when the 74-space Laugh ‘N’ Learn Early Learning Centre opened at Donwood Elementary School; following through on a commitment by the previous government.
Since then, the federal and provincial governments signed an agreement to invest nearly $47 million over three years in early learning and child care spaces. In two announcements, one on March 2 and one on April 6, the provincial government announced where they would allocate those funds. Only 26 of the 1,401 spaces announced are in northeast Winnipeg.
That’s a measly 1.86 per cent of all new childcare spaces in the province going to an area that is big and getting bigger, whose growth is driven in no small part by young families.
The fact that 1,400 new spaces could be created without even beginning to address the need in northeast Winnipeg is a testament to how bad the problem is. The approach of ad hoc, time-limited funding will not fix the problem. The market will not solve this problem either. If it could, it would have by now.
What we need is a national, long-term, funded strategy that sets bench marks for the price and availability of child care spaces.
Research on Quebec’s affordable daycare program has shown that the net cost of such a strategy is not only very low, such a program may even produce more revenue for government than it costs.
As more parents, mostly women, enter the workforce, government receives more revenue from payroll and income taxes. Sales taxes and business tax revenue goes up as families purchase more in the local economy. On top of that, costs for other social programs go down as families support themselves with the money earned at work.
That is what innovation in the public sector looks like. This is a problem we can afford to fix, but it will take governments that believe in collective solutions and local representatives that are willing to speak up for the communities they represent.
Elmwood-Transcona constituency report.
Daniel Blaikie is the NDP MP for Elmwood-Transcona.
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