The province and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce have partnered on a $1 million pilot project aimed at helping newcomers remove the barrier of finding reliable child care on the path to finding and keeping employment.
Wayne Ewasko, Manitoba’s minister of education and early childhood learning, made the announcement Thursday at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).
“We all know that sometimes it’s difficult to access child care quickly, which can be a massive barrier to finding and keeping employment,” Ewasko said. “Our government is committed to ensuring all Manitoba families, including newcomers, have access to quality, affordable, inclusive child care that is conveniently located.”
The new funding will be used to create new child-care spaces dedicated to newcomers who are taking part in the Newcomer Employment Hub Program.
Launched earlier this summer, the program is touted as an innovative online job tool offered by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and aimed at creating quality job matches between newcomers and local employers. The province said it uses advanced technology to create connections between employers and newcomers with the support of newcomer service agencies.
Chamber president Loren Remillard said the hub offers a promising solution to the longstanding challenge Manitoba employers face in filling job vacancies.
He said since soft-launching the Newcomer Employment Hub back in March, it has engaged over 370 job seekers, 10 service agencies and 63 individual Manitoba employers.
He said the chamber heard from participants that one of the biggest barriers facing newcomers is child care.
“This partnership with the Manitoba government is truly an innovative, bold and community-driven response to what we were hearing from stakeholders,” Remillard said.
“It breaks down the top barrier between employers and newcomer Canadians and in doing so, it creates a path towards greater talent, attraction, development and retention, and thereby fostering increased, enhanced diversity, inclusivity and equity throughout Manitoba’s workplaces.”
Ewasko said initially the project will begin with 12 spaces at an IRCOM-supported child care center for newcomers taking part in the hub program. By April 2023, the entire $1 million will support 68 fully subsidized licensed child-care spaces for newcomer families.
“This new program will go a long way towards reducing barriers to employment, but it will also help people connect into our community more quickly,” he said.
Ewasko said future expansions could add capital improvements and renovations to add more child-care spaces and will be determined after a review of the project.
The Newcomer Employment Hub can be found on the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce’s website.