Excerpts from the budget speech:
Our government announced the first Five-Year Plan for Child Care in 2002 &em; a plan to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of early learning and child care right across our province. Child care is also an important part of our plan to break down barriers for parents, particularly women, to return to work. Tremendous progress has been made &em; we have funded more than 6,600 child-care spaces, an increase of 43%.
In 2005, the governments of Canada and Manitoba negotiated and signed an agreement to provide new multiyear federal funding for child care and early learning. Based on this agreement, funded child-care spaces have been increased in Winnipeg and throughout rural and northern Manitoba. New facilities are being built, renovated and expanded. New training spaces have been created, and wage increases implemented for early childhood educators.
We are disappointed that the Government of Canada has chosen to unilaterally withdraw from our signed agreement. Under the agreement, Manitoba received $23 million last year, but based on the recent federal budget, we will only receive $9 million in 2007/08. While we will continue to make the case that the federal government should honour its commitments, we will not sacrifice children and parents in this fight for federal support. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Budget 2007 increases the provincial investment in child care by more than $14 million to backfill for withdrawn federal funds to ensure that the promises made to Manitoba families and communities are kept.