Excerpts from introduction
Manitoba’s childcare system is under severe strain.1 There are too few licensed childcare spaces; over 16,600 names are on the central waiting list, and there are only 37,459 licensed spaces in the province. Parent fees, while stable, are still too high for many. Only a handful of low-income parents can use regulated childcare, because the subsidy system is harshly restrictive. Facilities and programs are suffering, some are contemplating closure, and almost none can undertake expansion. In recent years, childcare spending has been frozen at 2016 levels—and was too low even four years ago.2 Worse, the province is not even spending the insufficient funds it has allotted. In 2018–2019, the province underspent the Financial Assistance and Grants share of the budget (the part that helps programs and parents the most) by $9 million—or a functional reduction of 5 per cent. Manitoba’s approach to childcare is especially concerning in light of the federal Multilateral Framework Agreement on Early Learning and Child Care, which is providing an additional $15 million per year to Manitoba.