More than 11,000 young Manitobans are waiting for daycare spots to open up, and child-care advocates say being on the provincial government's registry won't help parents secure those spaces sooner.
The Manitoba Child Care Association says there are currently 11,145 children across the province who are enrolled in the child-care registry, waiting to get into a daycare.
Pat Wege, the association's executive director, says that number is up from two years ago, and daycare centres cannot keep up with the demand.
"In any given year, turnover might be five spaces. Once parents get that coveted space, they don't leave quickly," she told CBC News on Tuesday.
"Babies continue to be born, moms continue to return to the workforce, and the shortage of child care continues."
Wege said the provincial registry isn't working and the government is falling way short of its promise to create 300 child-care spaces a year.
Some parents in southwestern Manitoba told CBC News they have had so much trouble getting their children into daycare that they had to quit their jobs or take their children to centres next door in Saskatchewan.
'It's going to be really tough,' says mom
In Winnipeg, Sandra Kehler said she put her child's name on the province's child-care registry as soon as she learned she was pregnant.
Kehler said she hopes to see some progress in finding quality child care for her son, Emmett, in about 10 months.
"We're not super-stressed about it. But I know that when it's getting closer, I think it's going to be really tough," she said.
Kehler said she has heard that the provincial registry is not used by all daycare centres, which would make it more difficult for her to secure a spot for Emmett.
"Everyone told me, 'Get on the list as soon as possible.' But then everyone said get on each individual daycare's list because they don't necessarily look at the online list," she said.
"I think it should all be centralized. Each daycare having its own list is kind of annoying in some ways because I need to find the time to get over to each centre or call, and when I've tried calling I don't get answers."
Wege said she doubts Manitoba can reach its goal of creating 20,000 new jobs by the year 2020 if the government does not provide more child-care spots so parents can return to work.
The provincial government remains committed to adding 2,000 more child-care spaces, a spokesperson told CBC News.
The province is collecting public input on child care until the end of this month. Anyone who wants to give their feedback can go to the government's consultation website.
Meanwhile, Wege is calling on parents to write to their MLAs to pressure them to create thousands of new child-care spaces.