Manitoba child-care facilities financially hit by the pandemic will soon be getting a cash infusion from the federal government.
The $4.4 million will go toward the province's new COVID-19 Response Block Grant, which will help 230 regulated, non-profit early learning and child-care facilities make up for lost funds.
Rochelle Squires, Manitoba's minister of families, said the one-time grant will be given to child-care centres based on how hard they were hit by COVID-19, but would not provide details on what those criteria would be.
"It's definitely dependent on need, and so my department will be working one-on-one with all the centres that we've identified as having challenges that they have been unable to meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that be reduced enrolment or some other COVID-related pressures," she said during a press conference Friday.
"We're wanting to stabilize them so that they can really hit the ground running in a post pandemic era, open their doors and be able to continue to provide that excellent child care that they have always in the past without having lagging deficits on their books because of the pandemic."
Squires says some child-care centres in Winnipeg saw a 20 per cent decrease in enrolment, which affected their bottom line.
The funding is part of a larger three-year agreement, with a total of $1.2 billion in federal dollars going to provinces across the country for early learning and child-care programs.
Manitoba's opposition said families need a long-term plan to make child care more affordable and accessible.
"The real threat facing both child-care centres and women unable to return to work is a provincial government that refuses to increase operating funding and has brought in legislation which would actually make child care more expensive in a pandemic," wrote Daniele Adams, NDP's critic for child care, in a statement.
Last week, the province introduced legislation that includes broad changes to Manitoba's child-care system, including having more child-care programs eligible to become licensed facilities and expanding which providers can receive grants.