Report says richer parents should pay more child-care fees in Manitoba

Parents with kids in Manitoba daycares won’t be charged fees based on their household income, despite recommendations made from a provincial review.

The review, titled Early Learning and Child-Care Transformation, looked at the economic impacts of child care in Manitoba and made recommendations on how to improve the system.

One of the five recommendations in the review included charging families based on their household income. 

However, that recommendation won’t be adopted into the system until at least 2024, if at all.

Read more: Manitoba government introduces bill to expand child care, freeze parent fees

The province tabled Bill 47 last month and promised to keep parent fees frozen for the next three years.

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Another recommendation counsels the province to decrease operational grants from the government and increase fees from parents, which make up 60 per cent of funding. 

Child advocates are worried these tactics will not sustain the industry.

“It doesn’t take a mathematician to determine that this is effectively starving the current system,” said Jodie Kehl, executive director of Manitoba Child Care Association. 

“There’s so much evidence that says these types of models fail.”

The review recommends a market stewardship approach, which models a more privatized system.

“This goes in the opposite direction of any sort of public system,” she said.

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Child care funding – Aug 26, 2020

“When we are talking about our youngest generation, profits should never be taking precedence over care.”

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Some parents of children in care say the industry, made up of 97 per cent women, is suffering.

Krista Wanzy has two children in care, one in a co-op daycare in Winnipeg. She volunteers and trades a couple of hours per month doing laundry or getting groceries to avoid monthly fees and take the strain off workers. 

“This industry is undervalued,” said Wanzy. “These women are helping raise our children, and that holds value to me.”

Read more: Manitoba’s child care legislation overlooks financial needs of day care workers, association says

Wazny says while she doesn’t want her own fees increasing, she agrees wages should be higher for care workers.

Manitoba has the second-lowest rate for child care in Canada, second to Quebec.

Kehl hopes the federal and provincial governments can work together to increase funding for child care in Manitoba when the federal budget comes out next week.

Read more: Liberals set for deep dive into child care in upcoming federal budget

Sources told The Canadian Press the Liberals are expected to tie funding to specific outcomes, such as reducing fees and expanding the number of spaces.

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They say they expect the government to provide some flexibility to provinces in how they deliver programs to meet their unique needs.

There is also talk about putting the new child-care spending into law to prevent it from being easily watered down or cancelled by a new government, much like the Liberals did with the national housing strategy.

Current federal spending on child care expires near the end of the decade. The Liberals proposed in last fall’s economic update to keep the money flowing, starting with $870 million a year in 2028, as a signal of more long-term funding to come in the April 19 budget.

—With files from The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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