Pallister Wrong to Dump Child Care Crisis on Workers 

March 20, 2020

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals say the Pallister Government's emergency child care announcement makes things worse, not better, by expecting workers to set up shop themselves while offering no guarantees of stable funding or income for workers who will lose their jobs.

Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface says he has already heard from many Early Childhood Education (ECE) workers who have been concerned about their own health, as well as children in their care. They may now be facing mass layoffs, even as the government orders some child care centres to stay open.

"We agree that the children of essential workers need to have child care, but if the PCs are going to designate child care as an essential service, it needs to be funded properly, and there is no indication that's what this government is doing," said Lamont.

Even before today's decision, Lamont said he had heard from a constituent and ECE worker, who wrote:

"The current financial situation for licensed non-profit centres does not include extra staffing, we can not afford to pay employees above our needed child to staff ratios. So if even small numbers of our employees need time off, we reach critical situations immediately, and if we cannot staff to meet ratios, how are we to remain open?"

Among the unanswered questions from today's conference:

• The $18-million fund means that it's up to workers to set up their own child care centres at home

• Many ECE workers are still going to be laid off for several weeks. Expanded EI rules will not be enough, and the province needs to step up

• Since parent fees are all being cancelled and refunded, how will child care centres survive a sustained shutdown of weeks or months without adequate revenue?

Manitoba has a child care waitlist of over 18,000 children and funding for non-profit child care centres and workers has been completely inadequate for years under both the PCs and NDP.

Manitoba Liberals say the government is going to have to step up with more funding for workers who are being laid off, as well as those who will have to work.

"I will echo the words of an ECE advocate 'Why is that child care programs are not important enough to get adequate funding, yet are too important of a social service to close?'" said Lamont.


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