Fall 2022 Update from MCCA’s Executive Director

Executive Directors Report – Fall 2022

Summer days, slipping away…wait, don’t slip away too fast, summer! I have enjoyed much time at the cottage, fishing, swimming, reading, running, blueberry-picking this summer – it is probably the first time off in 2 ½ years where I can say I really returned back to MCCA re-energized.

As much as I adore summer, the one thing I am looking forward to in the fall is MCCA’s 21st Annual Directors Conference – Birds of a Feather Conference Together, which will be in Brandon. This is the first one we have held since 2019 and we are thrilled to offer Directors an opportunity to network, connect and learn together (and have a little bit of fun while we are at it).

It’s incredible to think that it has been one year since the signing of the Canada-Manitoba Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement. From last year’s Fall issue of Bridges, “And then on August 9th, 2021, Manitoba became the 7th province to sign an Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the Government of Canada. This was a good day, a very good day, indeed, for child care in our province.”

So, what has happened in the last 365 days? There have been a number of initiatives introduced around affordability, accessibility and in support of the workforce. Just ahead of the one-year anniversary, MCCA’s Public Policy & Professionalism Committee met to deliberate current initiatives and recommendations on future action plans. The following letter was sent to Minister Ewasko, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning –

“August 9th, 2021 was a historic day for early learning and child care (ELCC) in the Province of Manitoba. It was on this day, that our provincial government signed the Canada-Manitoba Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the federal government. As we near the one-year anniversary of our agreement, MCCA would like to share key policy considerations related to the core components and considerations that are central to the success of building an ELCC system in Manitoba. They are: affordability, accessibility and of utmost importance, quality.

 Affordability/Financing – The Government of Manitoba has committed to reducing parent fees by an average of 50% by the end of 2022 and to an average of $10 a day by 2026. Our province has the advantage of already having a set fee that is (was) lower than fees currently charged in most provinces and territories. In February 2022, the current subsidy system was indexed. The requirement for families to apply for subsidies has resulted in three key reflections by centre administrators. They are:

 The process of subsidy applications is restrictive, stigmatizing, and intrusive for low-income families

  1. The process is exclusive to some families and leaves out those who fee reductions would most benefit
  2. The process dismisses a supportive system of access to high quality child care for all children regardless of parents’ circumstances

 MCCA recommends the Province of Manitoba: (1) develop a definition of affordability and, (2) replace the parent fee subsidies with a sliding fee scale to a maximum set fee. As parent fees are reduced, facilities will rely on operational funding to ensure sufficient financial resources.

 Manitoba also has the advantage of its existing unit funding model. This mechanism provides a good framework on which to build a more secure and adequate funding base. The recent 12% increase to the unit funding was greatly welcomed. MCCA looks forward to working with the government to consider modernizations of this funding model so that consistencies in operating costs can be realized.

 MCCA respectfully asks: Beyond considering feedback gathered from the Minister’s Consultation Table, what is the government’s plan for rolling out additional affordable ELCC initiatives?

 Accessibility – As child care has greater affordability for families, the demand for licensed ELCC will increase. Manitoba’s target of 23,000 new spaces over the next 5 years is ambitious and essential.

MCCA recommends that the Manitoba government develop a comprehensive, multi-year expansion plan for regulated ELCC that prioritizes the 3000+ additional ECEs who will work with the children who fill these new spaces. Further to this, increases to existing publicly funded Early Childhood Education training opportunities, as the recent increase to nursing seats in the amount of $30 million, are necessary and will add to the wider Manitoba economic development plan.

 MCCA recommends that the plan for accessibility be collaborative with all orders of government, and includes developing an inventory of public buildings and lands that have the potential to house child care centres, or to provide opportunities for the construction of new facilities. Finally, develop a policy to support stable and standardized occupancy agreements for child care centres located in schools and other publicly-owned buildings which will stabilize the accessibility to ELCC within communities in Manitoba.

 MCCA respectfully asks: What is the government’s plan for increasing accessibility to ELCC spaces moving forward?

 Quality –High-quality ELCC programs require adequate, sustainable funding to operate inclusive and culturally-safe programs staffed by educated and fairly compensated Early Childhood Educators. At the heart of quality is the ELCC workforce. Substantive research, which is well-regarded and substantial, indicates that high-quality ELCC programs benefit children, while programs of poor quality may have negative effects on life trajectories. 

 MCCA commends the government for its recent initiatives to support the workforce – the wage bridge benefit, retirement enhancement benefits and, most recently, the implementation of the wage grid. These are the foundations on which we can build upon a larger, more comprehensive workforce strategy.

 Within its recently released Roadmap to a Quality Early Learning and Child Care System in Manitoba, MCCA has recommended numerous policy actions related to:

  • qualifications and certification
  • ongoing professional learning of the ELCC workforce
  • address staff compensation and working conditions and data collection,
  • monitoring and evaluation

 MCCA’s Market Competitive Salary Guideline Scale 2022-2023 has been developed with refreshed salary data from competitive jobs that require similar training and responsibility and accurately reflects the current market in Manitoba. It is inclusive of all positions in the ELCC workforce. We recommend that the Province of Manitoba considers this research and evidence-based scale in the development of any future wage grids.

MCCA respectfully asks: What is the government’s plan to build on the foundation that it has constructed for the ELCC workforce?

 We thank you for your support, leadership and commitment to building a child care system that will support Manitoba’s children, families, ELCC sector and the broader economy. MCCA is committed to our partnership with the Government of Manitoba to ensure a successful high-quality, affordable, accessible, inclusive and flexible ELCC system. Over the past year, so much has already been achieved, but as we know, the work has just begun. We look forward to a meeting with you at your convenience and as soon as possible.”  

As identified in MCCA’s Roadmap to a Quality Early Learning and Child Care System in Manitoba, although the supply of licensed child care has increased over the years, it is still not affordable for many families. There remain “child care deserts” with programs being inequitably and unevenly distributed throughout the province. And although, recent workforce initiatives are welcomed and great steps in the right direction, ECEs are still undervalued and underpaid.

We have much more work to do. To use a running analogy, if this is a marathon (26.2 miles), we are only on about mile 10. So, let’s take a deep breath, and gulp of Gatorade© and enjoy the journey. Some miles are going to be more difficult than others, but when we get to the finish line, it will be so worth it.

Happy Fall, all!

~ Jodie Kehl

Categories: News

Posted by Jodie Kehl at 11:51 am