On Oct. 11, the Sun published a letter to the editor from Leanne Rowat, MLA, and Progressive Conservative critic for family services and labour, wherein she stated numerous criticisms of the child-care policies of the Manitoba NDP government. She refers to it as a “tax and spend” government that fails to deliver child care.
But official data available in public documents reveal a totally different picture. We can see where the government has committed over $147 million in its 2013-14 budget which funds more than 28,000 spaces province wide and is an increase of 174 per cent since 1999 when the NDP took over from the previous Conservative government of Gary Filmon — which included Brian Pallister.
Funded child-care spaces have increased by over 12,000 since 1999 with more being planned. In addition, more than $5 million has been allocated in the 2013 budget to build more child-care centres in schools and in the community. Also, we have the lowest regulated parent fees outside of Quebec.
In contrast, when the Conservatives were in power between 1988 and 1999, we saw deep cuts to child care with massive fee increases for Manitoba parents. For example, in 1993 alone the Tories reduced operating grants for child care centres by $3.7 million, while in 1996 they cut the child-care budget by 8.6 per cent, including a cut to day-care grants by $4.3 million.
Ms. Rowat and her Progressive Conservative caucus under Brian Pallister started the last session of the legislature by demanding $550 million in indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts for services for families. This was reminiscent of the 1990s under the Filmon government when they fired 1,000 nurses and laid off 700 teachers while cutting funding of roads and bridges five times.
Frankly, Ms. Rowat is on very shaky ground when she complains about our child-care policies. Apart from Quebec, we usually rank above all provinces in most elements of child care. I would refer readers to a paper entitled “Comparing Child Care Policies In The Canadian Provinces” presented by professors Kelly Pasolli and Lisa Young at the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association in June 2012 at the University of Alberta.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 16, 2013