Young child sitting at table reading with an early childhood educator

The governments of Canada and Manitoba have released new Action Plans to continue implementation of the Canada-Manitoba Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and the Canada-Manitoba bilateral agreement. Manitoba is the first province/territory to reach agreement with the Government of Canada on the content of the Action Plans for the 2023-2026 period. Agreements are required for federal funds to continue flowing to the provinces and territories for early learning and child care. 

Manitoba has already met the commitment to decrease parent fees to an average of $10/day, and, according to the Manitoba Action Plans, the Reduced Parent Fee Revenue Grant will continue to be provided to operators to offset the fee reductions. 

Manitoba has committed to create new child care facilities in partnership with municipalities and First Nations through the Ready-to-Move project, which involves locating pre-constructed modular child care facilities in Indigenous and rural communities. Also, the Manitoba government will expand child care through partnerships with schools, post-secondary institutions and healthcare facilities. The Action Plan also details the continuation of several workforce training initiatives, and an expansion in the number of seats in ECE post-secondary programs. 

The Bilateral Agreement, which predates the Canada-wide Agreement, will serve as a mechanism to support shorter-term initiatives specifically in the areas of training and workforce development and services and programming. Initiatives under the Bilateral Agreement Action Plan include developing 8 Learning Labs at post-secondary institutions, expanding access to the Science of Early Child Development portal and new grants for Diversity and Inclusion programming, Francophone governance and inclusion and Indigenous cultural programming. 

The government of Manitoba will also contract a vendor to provide recommendations on the development of a comprehensive wage grid and modernization of Manitoba’s ELCC workforce certification levels and processes. The latest wage framework updates have been called insufficient to make a significant difference in the recruitment and retention crisis. 

The Manitoba Child Care Association (MCCA) expressed surprise at this vendor process, as they have regularly produced a comprehensive Market Competitive Salary Guideline Scale for ECEs with the support of a Human Resources company since 2006. The starting wage on the MCCA’s wage framework for ECEs is $26.86, compared to $20.73 on the Manitoba’s government’s current wage grid. 

Child Care Now will be watching the revision of the wage grid and certification closely, and will advocate for higher wages within a mandatory comprehensive compensation framework, as developed by the MCCA.