Commitment to daycare spaces needed

By Matt Wiebe - MLA for Concordia

As published in The Herald

January 12, 2017

As a parent with two young children, I’ve seen the benefits that quality daycare spaces can have in a community first-hand.

Having a safe and fun environment where children can thrive is not only helpful for children’s development, but also has larger benefits for families and the economy as a whole. Here in Concordia, we have many families who are anxious to find local childcare and are looking for solutions to the ever-growing waiting list.

I’ve been proud to support daycares in my constituency. In the past, I’ve been able to connect daycare centres with government grants, which are often used to improve existing facilities. Grants like Community Places have been particularly successful because they leverage government money with local fundraising. For example, the Munroe Early Childhood Education Centre at Kent Road School was able raise money and match the provincial grant to upgrade its kitchen. Likewise, Stars of Promise daycare matched its grant and used it to upgrade the flooring throughout the daycare.

Unfortunately, the Community Places program has been paused by the current government and its future is in doubt. This puts more pressures on daycares, which may now be forced to put off important upgrades that support our kids.

Childcare in our schools needs to be a top priority, as before and after school daycares have become increasingly popular. Many before and after programs in our area schools are eager to expand and have approached government for support of their much needed projects.

New spaces are also key, but unfortunately they, too, remain in the balance. Projects like the Concordia Health and Fitness Centre, which has been planned to include childcare and infant care spaces, have been suspended by the new government.

A government-wide freeze on new capital spending puts any renovation projects at risk. With the waiting list growing, families are frustrated that there isn’t a comprehensive government commitment to building new spaces and supporting existing ones.

Investments in new daycare capital along with easy access to licensed daycare centres form the backbone of a comprehensive childcare system. Families are looking for action now, and I am committed to continuing to push for the government to see the value in childcare.

If you have any questions or would like to share your ideas for Concordia, feel free to call me at 204-654-1857 or visit my website at www.MattWiebe.ca.