The March 23, 2017 federal budget announced $7B over 10 years earmarked for child care. This is very good news and it is encouraging that child care is back on the federal government agenda after an 11 year absence.
The Liberals predict it could create 40,000 new, subsidized child care spaces across Canada in the next three years. However, that number will put only a small dent in the number of children waiting for a space in a licensed facility. There is enough licensed child care in Canada for only 24% of preschool children and demand is through the roof in most provinces. For example, in Manitoba, as of December 31, 2016, there were 14,658 names on the online child care waiting list. Fortunately, the Liberal plan provides for multi-year funding, which makes it possible for provinces to commit to long term and ongoing investments. However, the funds they promise ramp up very slowly year over year and don’t beef up until 2022.
The Federal Funding Year-by-Year
The money is now on the table, but there are other hoops to jump through before investments can begin. Provinces and territories must sign multi-lateral agreements with the federal government before the 2017-2018 funds will be released. Once the multi-laterals are signed the federal government will have to negotiate bi-lateral agreements with each of the provinces and territories. Multi-year funding hinges on these agreements being executed.
Manitoba has long been regarded as a leader on child care and was first to sign the bi-lateral the last time federal/provincial funding agreements for child care were on the table in 2005. At that time, Manitoba agreed to invest federal funding in capital and operations, subsidy for fees, wage enhancements, professional development, and parent information and resources. Those are still among the priority areas, and MCCA will be encouraging the provincial government to once again be a leader in negotiations with the federal government.
Posted by Jodie Kehl at 7:42 pm