Several southern Manitoba and Interlake communities will have new child-care facilities built in time for the next school year, creating more than 600 new spaces.
The regulated, non-profit child care facilities are planned for the Portage La Prairie area, the town of Stonewall, Peguis First Nation, and the municipalities of Headingley, Macdonald, Ritchot, St. Clements, Morris and Whitemouth, Premier Heather Stefanson announced at a Monday news conference.
“We recognize that our communities grow, and so too does the need for Manitoba families to access to high-quality child-care services closer to home. This is especially true in rural communities,” she said at the conference in Stonewall.
The modular facilities, which will cost $70 million and are being paid for through the Canada-Manitoba Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, will be constructed off-site and moved to their respective areas to ensure the child-care spaces can become available as soon as possible, Stefanson said.
In exchange, the municipalities will provide a minimum of two acres of land with 15 years of free rent, plus snow removal, landscape maintenance and repairs.
“These support services reduce costs for child-care operators, ensuring long-term sustainability of centres,” Stefanson said.
Early Childhood Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko says this announcement will help people access child care closer to home.
“As you check out the locations that are getting these first nine [facilities], in some cases they were daycare or child-care space deserts. That means that many of the families had to leave their communities to access daycares in other locations,” he said.
Stonewall Mayor Sandra Smith says the child-care waiting list in that community is “in the hundreds.”
“We are a growing community. We do have a new subdivision in our area that new families are coming into, so the need is immediate here,” she said at the news conference.
Ewasko added that he’s heard from Stonewall parents who take their children to daycare in Winnipeg.
The province also announced it hopes to build an additional eight facilities, creating an additional 600 child-care seats. in the near future, and is soliciting requests for proposals to make that happen.