Manitoba to provide child care for front-line COVID workers

The Manitoba government will spend nearly $28 million to provide child care for workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 responses.

Families minister Heather Stefanson announced the plan March 20, just after premier Brian Pallister declared a state of emergency.

The province suspended service at licensed child-care centres for the next three weeks.

The spending includes $18 million in grants for early childhood educators who are affected by the suspension to offer services in their homes for up to 12 children, $7.6 million for licensed child-care centres to provide care for up to 16 children of front-line and essential workers, and $2 million for capital grants for child-care providers to ensure safety.

The government also encouraged all daycares to reimburse prepaid fees.

Pallister said that the emergency declaration will remain in effect for 30 days and then be re-evaluated.

“This gives us a readiness that we need in these uncertain times,” he said during a news conference. “Understand that this is a temporary measure. Understand that we do not enter into this lightly. This is part of our need to respond.”

Pallister said Manitobans have been respecting the advice to limit gatherings to 50 and keep physical distance between each other.

“We respect the rights and freedoms of our citizens. However, we must continue to use every tool that we have,” he said.

Manitoba’s positive cases remained at 17 March 20. One is in hospital in stable condition. About 3,355 people have been tested so far.

Elective surgeries will be suspended as of March 23 to ensure space is available for Covid-19 response. Scheduled surgeries for cancer, trauma and others that can’t be delayed will continue.

Prescription renewals are now limited to a one-month supply.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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