Manitoba daycare fees holding steady, despite memo outlining potential increases

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is promising to hold the line on daycare fees, despite an internal document showing the government considered otherwise.

The memo prepared for the Department of Families detailed possible increases to the maximum fees that Manitoba charges to enrol youth in child care, and a possible decrease in the number of children approved for subsidies.

Pallister said he wouldn’t entertain the idea, when asked by NDP Leader Wab Kinew on Thursday if he would increase the cap this year.

“Not only can I guarantee that,” he said during question period at the legislature, “but I can guarantee that Manitobans will pay a lower PST.”

The document, dated Sept. 11, 2018, did not offer a recommendation, but provided the government with background on the issue. It is unclear what was being proposed since much of the report was redacted.

A fee hike of any kind would face scrutiny, the report acknowledged.  

“It is anticipated that an increase to parent fees will gain interest from parents and the media,” said the document, which was obtained by the NDP through the Freedom of Information Act.

Fees among lowest in Canada

The memo states that child-care fees in Manitoba are among the lowest in Canada, with parents paying on average $30 for infants and $20.78 for preschoolers in licensed facilities every day. The fees have been frozen since 2013.

Kinew said the report demonstrates the government wasn’t thinking about the best interest of families. 

NDP Leader Wab Kinew is concerned the government was thinking about raising daycare fees in advance of the 2019 budget. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

“That’s the thing that we can actually take to the bank … this government was considering raising daycare fees for parents.”

A provincial spokesperson said the government was simply evaluating the way it funds the daycare system.

“We may contemplate adjustments to maintain a practical and sustainable balance between the affordability of child care for families and revenues for child care facilities,” the prepared statement said.

“We remain committed to working constructively and co-operatively with stakeholders and support facilities so they can continue to offer licensed early learning and child care services.”

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