The Canadian Community Economic Development Network – Manitoba (CCEDNet-MB) would like to congratulate the Province of Manitoba for opening a new 80-space child care center in ACCESS Winnipeg West. Investing in high quality learning and child care services is one of the most effective means of reducing poverty and promoting economic growth in our communities (every $1 invested in child care in Manitoba returns $1.58 to rural and northern economies and $1.38 to the Winnipeg economy, while every child care job created leads to 2.15 jobs being created or sustained, and an estimated $715 million is earned by mothers and fathers available to work due to child care). Furthermore, child care is critical to ensuring Manitobans develop the skills and knowledge necessary for full participation in our society.
However, while these new spaces further the provincial government’s goal of funding 6,500 spaces by 2013, there are still over 11,000 names registered with the Online Child Care Registry. CCEDNet-MB urges the Province of Manitoba to fund enough new and expand enough established licensed early learning and child care spaces to meet the demand for child care services as determined by the Online Child Care Registry, with priority targeting given to creating child care spaces in lower-income neighbourhoods, including rural and Northern communities.
CCEDNet-MB recognizes that over the course of Family Choices: Manitoba’s Five-Year Agenda for Early Learning and Child Care in Manitoba (2008-2013), Education Assistants and Child Care Assistants’ salaries have increased, and a pension plan has been introduced. Unfortunately these wages are still below market rates, and consequently non-competitive – around 30% of licensed child care centres in Manitoba cannot recruit employees with the qualifications required by the Community Child Care Standards Act. CCEDNet-MB urges the Province of Manitoba to fund a provincial salary scale that is at current market competitive rates and that applies to all child care professionals.
Lastly, CCEDNet-MB’s members have identified the need for culturally appropriate child care services. Through the Rewarding Work in Education community internship program, more low-income, newcomer, and Aboriginal people have received training to become certified Education Assistants or Child Care Assistants. CCEDNet-MB urges the Province of Manitoba to continue investing in resources and training supports to recruit, train and retain Aboriginal, Francophone and visible minority individuals to the childcare profession.
Aggressive action for child care by the Province of Manitoba in the areas of available spaces, wages, and culturally relevant services will have a tremendous positive impact on Manitoba communities. This will include more mothers and fathers working and studying, more money in the local economy, and a reduction in poverty – especially women’s poverty and child poverty.