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Gerrard vows $44.5M over five years for more daycare spaces; NDP jeers

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Staff Writer
Publication Date: 
10 Sep 2011



MANITOBA Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard pledged $44.5 million over five years Friday to boost the number of daycare spaces in Manitoba and reduce wait times for young families.

But he didn't say how.

Gerrard used the Little Saints Learning Centre in St. Vital as an example. Its 38 spaces are full with a waiting list of 188 kids, he said.


Gerrard said his plan does not set a goal of increased child-care spaces but only to reduce wait times.

"Mothers are having to get their kids on wait lists almost before they're pregnant if they want to get an early spot," he said.

NDP Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh said Gerrard's plan is ill-conceived as it will shortchange the province's daycares of what they get now.

Mackintosh said when the NDP came into office more than a decade ago there were 16,900 funded spaces. This year there are 28,000 for an increase of 66 per cent, he said.

He added the current daycare budget is $138 million for daycare operations plus $5 million for school daycares.

He said in April 2008 the province launched the five-year Family Choices program to add 6,500 spaces and 35 new child-care centres. He said as of today the program is at 5,600 spaces and 54 new child-care centres are on the drawing board.

"He didn't even commit to any spaces and he didn't commit to any retention and recruitment initiatives," Mackintosh said. "He didn't commit to any more child-care centres. This is a backward step."

Gerrard said the Liberal plan does include dedicating more resources toward increased early childhood education spaces, more money to hire child-care professionals and screening for learning disabilities for young children.

-reprinted from the Winnipeg Free Press