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This article was published 18/8/2019 (564 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A re-elected PC government would create a new child-care funding program for low-income families — and give them the option of using it to pay for space at a private early learning or child-care centre.
Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson said a subsidy of as much as $500 per month would be paid to 3,000 lower-income families under the proposed portable child-care benefit.
Stefanson said the families could use the funding for the child-care option of their choice.
"We will develop a new program for portable affordability, to create more child-care spaces, increase availability and review the early learning and child-care funding model for sustainability," she said during the announcement on Sunday.
"Child care isn’t one size fits all... Our new portable child-care benefit will provide flexible child care cost relief to eligible families who will need it most, and offer more options to parents who feel they don’t have any.
"Families aren’t all the same and our early learning and child-care choices shouldn’t be all the same either."
Stefanson said the Pallister government would also bring in legislation to allow for the payment of provincial capital grants to private early learning and child-care centres to encourage the development of new child-care spaces.
As well, Stefanson said an earlier Progressive Conservative promise to fast-track the construction of 13 additional schools would result in creating an additional 1,000 child-care spaces, while the seven schools already in the design phase would add 548 child-care spaces.
Stefanson said in total, there should be more than 3,000 new child-care spaces created by the mix of PC proposals and legislation.
She said the child-care waiting list, which it inherited from the NDP, is currently about 16,000 children, but the government hopes to clean up the list by culling duplicate names while also noting "there are people on the wait list that have yet to be born."
The announcement was held in the recently opened Living Prairie Childcare in Sage Creek. A Tory campaign official said it is the first new child-care facility built and opened since the child-care centre development tax credit was created by the government last year. Seventy-five children use the daycare.
Later, an NDP spokeswoman noted the Pallister government has frozen funding for child-care centres for three years, "throwing the system into crisis."
The spokeswoman said Manitobans should also remember the Pallister government even tried to cut the inclusion support program, which allows the province’s most vulnerable children, those living with special needs, to get into child care, but the government backed down after an outcry.
"Pallister’s record on child care shows how little he cares about working families and how little he values early childhood education — he’s only concerned for those at the top," she said.
"He has ignored calls from over 26,000 Manitobans and organizations like the Manitoba Child Care Association to end the freeze for public child-care centres. The lack of action hurt all children in our province and women who are the most likely to be affected by cuts to child care."
A Liberal party spokesman said "a major issue in child care is that there aren’t spaces available."
"There are over 16,000 children on the wait list and this announcement does not even come close to addressing this issue. We need to start by expanding spaces and should be making it more affordable for all families.
"Manitoba Liberals believe child care should not be a barrier for any Manitoban."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.