Technically Childcare Is Essential formed less than a year ago- although it feels more like 5 years… but 2021 is here and it feels like a good time to reflect and regroup so here we go!
Childcare is Essential was formed in response to Brian Pallister’s government opening the Provincial Child Care Legislation. We wanted an opportunity to share information from the point of view of parents and early childhood educators about ways to strengthen and repair our system. However, a pandemic was declared and this long-term thinking was overshadowed by basic needs and safety concerns; Would our already struggling programs be dealt a death blow by the pandemic? How would we keep the children safe? How could we best support essential workers? Would we have enough healthy staff to keep programs running- knowing that many programs started understaffed?
It was a turbulent time and we were all struggling to tread water, there wasn’t much time for detailed campaign strategy, so we did what caregivers do best- we started by caring for educators. Families shared what they loved about their childcare programs; what they couldn’t live without and what they were afraid to lose. The testimonials were heartfelt and genuinely moving. It became clear that Childcare is indeed Essential.
Despite this the provincial government used the pandemic as a convenient time to make major systemic changes with cursory, performative “consultations”. They failed in listening to parents’ concerns and instead created uncalled for programs for private citizens and businesses to open adhoc “family” child care programs and lowered the safety standards in order to make this happen. They partnered with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce (was there an open tender?!?) to distribute funds with the goal of warehousing kids so parents could work. In retrospect there wasn’t much uptake of this program- it’s a shame these dollars couldn’t have been invested into existing programs that parents are clearly happy with.
What else happened in 2020?
- We released our petition in May
- Sent postcards to the Minister of Families
- Participated in joint actions with Communities Not Cuts
- Put out a joint media release with the Manitoba Child Care Association and the Manitoba Child Care Coalition in response to the suggested changes to the Childcare Act
- Built a community of supporters
- Did many, many interviews with media
- Held a successful rally at Heather Stefanson’s office
- Had a zoom town hall
- Created infographics and short videos about childcare funding
Check out this slide show we made about our year!
We were successful in keeping child care in the media for the entire year and increasing the general public’s understanding of our system and funding model but there’s still lots to do!
Despite our petition, demanding the government support families and childcare centres, the government has not stepped up and parent’s and ECE’s have been running off their feet all year creating new program models, working from home while homeschooling etc. so we needed a little downtime in December to regroup and reflect. We are back with a vengeance and ready for bigger and better things!
The province hasn't slowed down in their path to privatize our provincial child care system. This week they announced a major cut to enhanced nursery programs.
We need your help! Here’s some things you could do:
- Join our committee and share your expertise on communications, policy etc.
- Share your mad media skills- we could use a resident tiktoker and a traditional media wrangler
- Create visuals, posters, promotional material
- Fundraising and event planning
- Navigating Nationbuilder
- Follow our social media and share our posts.
- Donate to our cause (funds would help fund our gsuite, nationbuilder, office supplies etc.)
We’d also like to take a minute to express our support for Communities Not Cuts- Suppress the Virus Campaign. You can find out more information about their campaign and sign their petition here.
It’s hard to predict the future in these turbulent times, but we know turbulence can be an opportunity to create great change. We have all the right ingredients: a will for change, passionate supporters, and the shining goal of accessible, universal, high quality early learning and child care. Together we can keep the momentum going! Here’s to exciting things in 2021
The Childcare is Essential Team