Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government has committed millions of dollars to child care, municipalities, newcomer women and community groups ahead of the writ drop for the Kirkfield Park byelection.
On Monday, Premier Heather Stefanson kicked off a day of government announcements in Stonewall, where the province said it would partner with the federal government to add 1,200 child care spaces in rural communities.
The pledge will see Manitoba and Ottawa spend up to $70 million on 17 new capital projects to add regulated, non-profit child care spaces in rural and First Nations communities.
Stefanson was joined by Education and Early Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko and families, children and social development parliamentary secretary Ya’ara Saks at the Veterans Memorial Sports Complex for the announcement.
“These new facilities will be created in less than one year, reducing wait times for families accessing child care services closer to home,” Stefanson said.
“To achieve this goal we are taking a unique and collaborative and community-led approach, by using a hybrid construction process established by JQ Built, to expedite the construction delivery of these new facilities in communities of great need.”
The new buildings will be pre-fabricated, modular structures that can be replicated, readily transported and built in communities across Manitoba, according to the province. The new child care centres are expected to fully open in September 2023.
Funding for the new spaces comes from the five-year, $1.2-billion Canada-wide early learning and child care agreement Manitoba and Ottawa signed in August 2021.
Local municipalities must provide a minimum of two acres of serviced land, with 15 years of free rent and maintenance services, in exchange for the government funding.
Nine communities have been selected for the first phase of development, including Portage la Prairie, Headingley, Stonewall, and Peguis First Nation. The province has committed to developing 23,000 new child care spaces for kids under seven by 2026, as part of its deal with the federal government.
Government announcements continued ahead of an anticipated blackout on communications with a $500,000 commitment to the Holy Names House of Peace “Beyond Bricks” capital campaign.
The province is expected to drop the writ in the Kirkfield Park byelection Tuesday, which places restrictions on government announcements.
The Holy Names House of Peace is a not-for-profit organization serving newcomer women and families in downtown Winnipeg. The group launched a fundraising campaign last fall to purchase a property at 211 Edmonton St.
The group also provides transitional housing for newcomer women and space for 12-step and domestic violence groups.
Municipalities will also benefit from a $1.35 million provincial commitment to improve service delivery. The cash comes from the previously announced $5-million municipal service delivery improvement program,which has already dispersed $1.1 million.
Nine projects were selected during the second intake for the program. Municipalities can apply for funding to conduct reviews and establish plans to improve services and find cost savings.
The City of Winnipeg received funding for a “public works level of service” review.
Meantime, Culture and Heritage Minister Andrew Smith said the province will provide $260,000 to 59 community groups through its Arts, Culture and Sport in Community Fund. The three year, $100-million fund was established in August, and supports capital projects, special initiatives and events.