WINNIPEG, MB. - The Manitoba government is proposing amendments to the province’s early learning and child care legislation that would reduce red tape, address gaps, and enhance governance and accountability, Minister Scott Fielding said in a news release.
“We have heard from child-care providers and other key stakeholders the current legislation is complicated and outdated,” said Fielding. “We want to simplify the process for hard-working Manitobans who rely on licensed child care so they can work or study outside of the home. Less red tape and regulatory procedures will also free up our department staff to spend more time supporting child-care providers and improving the early learning and child-care system.”
The community child care standards amendment act proposes clear and concise amendments, written in plain language, to strengthen the act and regulation, the minister said.
“Manitoba parents value licensed child care so it is important to review legislation to identify gaps, but also enhancements and strategies that will strengthen quality of care and learning for our youngest citizens,” said April Kalyniuk, president, Manitoba Child Care Association. “Our association members look forward to participating in consultations and providing their perspective on future amendments.”
The minister noted major areas to be addressed in phase one of the proposed amendments includes;
- Multi-year licensing – the ability to renew licences of centres in good standing for up to three years, increased from the current one year maximum.
- Duplication – reducing repetition between the act and regulation for codes of conduct, safety plans and fire safety, without lowering safety standards. For example, the requirement each facility staff member be instructed about the code of conduct and safety plan would be removed from the act as it is also outlined in the regulation.
- Subsidy overpayment – providing the provincial director of child care authority to recover funds when a parent or guardian is overpaid the amount they receive for a child-care space. Overpayments may be the result of administrative error, out-of-date information or a false income statement. The province continues to inform families they are required to report changes in household income, as income threshold determines subsidies.
- Provisional administrator – giving the provincial director new powers that would address financial, operational or governance-related problems at a child-care centre, such as a dysfunctional board of directors, and work with centres at risk of closure. The minister would have authority to appoint a temporary provisional administrator as a last resort to ensure the centre could remain open while it works to resolve issues.
- Language – assessing and modernizing language in the legislation for clarity and gender neutrality.
“Manitoba has a reputation for maintaining high standards in early learning and child care,” said Cathie Buschau, executive director, Univillage Preschool and Infant Centre in Winnipeg. “These changes will improve the understanding of the child care act, as well as enhance policies that will further benefit the program.”
“As a home-based early childhood educator, I’m excited to hear the government is making early learning and child care a priority for Manitoba families,” said Shannon Trickett of Trickett Family Child Care in Winnipeg. “The plans for reducing duplication and revising language in the legislation for clarity and to reflect gender neutrality would not only help ease the process for new providers but would help retain veteran providers and enhance quality of care in the program.”
The minister noted the province consulted child-care associations, co-ordinators, centre directors and family child-care providers to develop its proposed amendments. He added this is phase one of a two-phased approach, with a plan to propose the second set of amendments in 2018-19.
Government of Manitoba