children playing

Child care programs vital in our community

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Gerrard, Jon
Publication Date: 
28 Apr 2019


I recently had the chance to visit with Christie DeJong at RHS Childcare and Carlin Mann at the Oak Street Nursery School, adjacent to the Robert H. Smith School here in River Heights.   

They have a range of daycare services for children who are preschool, before- and after-school programs for children and youth in school. The situation they are facing, like many child care and early childhood education facilities in Manitoba is that their revenue has been frozen — both the revenue  from parent contributions (which has been frozen for five years) and from the provincial government operating grant (which has been frozen for three years).  

Both facilities have been challenged to manage financially even as they continue to do their best to offer the very best in child care and early childhood education to the families of River Heights.  

Early child care programs are a vital part of our community. With most households having more than one parent working, facilities like RHS Daycare and Oak Street Nursery have become essential for many families.  High quality early childhood education is an important part of every child’s development.  

Evidence shows that early childhood education can lead to significant reductions in special education placement, in improved grade retention and in increased high school graduation rates. High quality early learning and child care is best provided by consistent, sensitive, responsive and well-trained early childhood educators (ECEs).

By failing to increase funding to these programs the present provincial government has, compared to the cost of living index, effectively reduced funding to early child care programs and created a significant wage gap.  Most programs are unable to compensate staff at the 2019 Manitoba Child Care Association (MCCA) Wage Scale. Many centres are paying two to three years behind — some more than eight years behind. This wage gap has left programs unable to compete in the current labour market, with wages below what is offered by retail and other sectors.  A survey of members of MCCA showed that 69 percent were finding it hard to hire early childhood educators because staff preferred to work where they would receive better pay (for example as an educational assistant). The low pay has also resulted in fewer people choosing this career and getting the training needed. These are factors which affect Christie and Carlin’s ability to provide care every day.

Clearly with about 16,000 children now waiting for child care and early childhood education in Manitoba there is a major effort needed to work out how best to ensure there is space for all, and to ensure that the quality of child care and early childhood education remains high.