On November 21, 2017, Manitoba Families Minister Scott Field tabled the Community Child Care Standards Amendment Act, which introduced legislative changes to child care. According to the Throne Speech, the act aims to:
- create new child care spaces
- reduce wait times
- eliminate red tape for early childhood educators
- foster better outcomes for families with young children
Field stated that the, “Legislation will reduce red tape for early childhood educators, focus on partnerships with other levels of government, traditional and home-based service providers, businesses/employers, schools, rural and northern communities. It will introduce new incentives for private investments in child care spaces.”
One of the concerns flagged by the Manitoba Child Care Association is the language private investments in child care spaces, which may mean a provincial investment in for profit child care and significant cost increases to parents.
Brianne Goertzen, a board member of both the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba and Child Care Now, echoes this sentiment, saying, “We believe that they are paving the way for private child care access in Manitoba. Bill 9 has some changes that are good, however, a number of people in the child care movement have flagged vague language and that the intent of these changes is not clear.”
The main areas being considered for amendment are:
- Licensing: Increasing the time that a license to operate a child care facility is valid for operators in good standing.
- Duplication: Reducing duplication in codes of conduct, safety plans, and fire safety.
- Subsidy overpayment recovery: Providing authority to the Director of Child Care to recover funds for subsidy overpayments and providing a mechanism to do so.
- Board governance risk: Allowing for the Director of Child Care to refuse, suspend, or revoke a license based on board governance risks, and permitting the Minister to appoint a provisional administrator to avert risk of centre closure.
- Updates to the language: Assessing and revising language for clarity and to reflect gender neutrality.
Manitoba’s most recent Online Child Care Registry Monthly Statistics show approximately 16,702 children on the province’s child care waitlist, with more than 11,000 families requiring care within three months.
The announcement is the first phase, with consolation with child care advocates expected before the second phase is announced next year.