Post Provincial Budget Day Reflections
Provincial Budget 2018 announced the following initiatives for early learning and child care including:
- $3.3 million to increase the number of new and newly funded child care spaces, including support for 700 new and newly funded preschool spaces and funding for new construction in schools and communities. As of August 2016, there were 16,702 children on the Online Registry waiting for a licensed child care space. At a rate of 700 new spaces per year, it will take 22 years to eliminate the wait list.
- An additional $4.8 million for the Inclusion Support Program (ISP)
(Funding for the new spaces and the ISP) closely mirror the announcement made several weeks ago when Manitoba announced how it will invest the funds it will get from the federal government under the Canada-Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.)
- $700,000 in new funding toward children’s therapy services delivered through the Children’s Therapy Initiative (CTI) to reduce wait times for preschool children referred for speech language therapy and occupational therapy services
- A new, refundable corporation income tax credit, called the Child Care Centre Development Tax Credit to stimulate the creation of licensed child care spaces in private workplaces. Employers are eligible for up to $10,000.00 per space tax credit over 5 years, however a tax credit is not cash so it will be interesting to see how many employers step up to fund the start up costs to build/renovate/equip a new child care centre, which can easily surpass $1M for a small 40 space centre.
The total Early Learning and Child Care Budget will increase from $175.7M 2017-2018 to $185.0M in 2018/2019, likely all of it coming from the federal child care agreement.
Here is what is not in the budget:
- a desperately needed funding increase to child care centres. The last operating grant increase was January 2016 and the last parent fee increase was July 2013. Fixed operating costs continue to increase, especially for occupancy such as rent and utilities, employer portion of EI and CPP, children’s program etc. Child care centres must be staffed primarily by Early Childhood Educators with a degree/diploma who are underpaid relative to training and experience. There is no new funding in Provincial Budget 2018 to help address the wage gap.
- a comprehensive, multi-year child care plan that is bold, robust, and visionary. There are more than 16,000 children waiting for a child care space on the Online Child Care Registry and no plan that comes even remotely close to fixing the gap between supply and demand. Compare the Manitoba announcement to British Columbia – who has announced $1B downpayment on a universal child care plan and with Ontario that has a plan to add 100,000 new child care spaces over 5 years.
- any mention of child care for school age children. The federal funds are specifically for preschool children, which means currently unfunded school age spaces will remain unfunded and there is no chance of new school age spaces acquiring provincial funding in this fiscal year.
In summary, the signing of the Canada-Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care Agreement brought the funds the province needed to include some new initiatives in Budget 2018, including the much needed boost to inclusion support funding. The highlight is the 392 new child care spaces to be co-located in the 5 new schools but it will be several years before those are built.
Posted by Jodie Kehl at 8:58 am