With more than 500 kids on the waitlist for the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) Day Care, more funding from the provincial government to add extra space can’t come soon enough, the student union says.
The UWSA Day Care welcomes 96 children on a regular basis and is hoping to increase that figure to 128.
On Sept. 15, the UWSA and the University of Winnipeg (U of W) submitted an application for the province’s Family Choices Building Fund for a $400,000 grant.
The students’ association will chip in $450,000. This is subject to the approval of the U of W’s contribution of $150,000, which would need to be green lit by the board of regents on Oct. 5. Altogether, the daycare expansion would cost an estimated $1 million.
The kids on the waitlist belong to students, staff, faculty and community members. Some of them have yet to be born, notes the UWSA’s daycare director Ioulja Berdnikova.
An expansion of 32 seats would allow the UWSA’s childcare centre to accept 20 more infants – from newborns up to two-years-old – and 12 children.
The daycare tries to save 50 per cent of its spaces for children of students, another 25 per cent for children of university staff and faculty and 25 per cent for children of community members.
Wait times can vary for each child and parent, from two months to three years, and spaces cost about $40 per day.
The age of the child can play a role in when they are admitted to the UWSA Day Care. Parents of children under two are often left vying for space.
After two years on the waitlist, Michael Habtemichael, a third-year biology student at the U of W, was able to reserve a space for his daughter at the daycare.
Habtemichael says since his daughter started attending daycare he’s noticed a dramatic improvement in her behaviour.
“To have her at daycare, is a good part of her life … we can see her personality when she comes here … and see what her interests are,” he says.
Kim Bhathal-Paz, a third-year education student who has her three- and five-year-old daughters in daycare, says the service is incredibly important for her and her family.
“If I didn’t have daycare for my kids, I wouldn’t be able to attend school right now,” she says.
Both parents say they would like to see the UWSA Day Care centre expand.
UWSA president Peyton Veitch notes it could take until spring for approval on the expansion due to the provincial election scheduled for April 2016. A black-out spending period at the provincial level starts in January.
“New projects cannot be announced and take place during the elections because it could influence the outcome of the election,” Veitch says.
Insufficient daycare space is nearly a nation-wide problem due, in some cases, to lack of facilities and expensive costs. It’s been raised as a federal and provincial election issue by Canadian voters.
For more information on how to register for childcare, visit gov.mb.ca/fs/parentupdate
Published in Volume 70, Number 4 of The Uniter (October 1, 2015)