Manitoba

Struggling Francophone daycare turns to province for help

A St. Boniface daycare is in such dire financial strait its volunteer board says it may soon have to close its doors.

Garderie des Bambins has 35 kids enrolled, but provincial funding for only 16

Parents say the Garderie De Bambins nursery in St. Boniface is worthy of funding because it reaches a special target demographic. (Wildinette Paul/CBC)

A St. Boniface daycare is in such dire financial straits its volunteer board says it may soon have to close its doors.

"The problem is we can't afford to wait," said Paul Turenne, vice-president and board member of the Garderie des Bambins nursery.

"It's actually a fairly serious situation."

Financial problems at the daycare are not new, but Turenne said the current situation is especially dire, so much so that daycare staff are taking voluntary pay cuts just to keep the place running.

The nursery said it gets an operating subsidy for just 16 kids but has 35 enrolled.
Parents marched over the lunch hour Wednesday to St. Boniface MLA Greg Selinger's office to try to get help to save the nursery. (Wildinette Paul/CBC)

Parents who pay to send their kids to the daycare are calling on Manitoba Families Minister Scott Fielding for help, but his office said the government has already helped the centre, which moved into a larger space without government direction or funding approval.

Parents marched over the lunch hour Wednesday to St. Boniface MLA Greg Selinger's office to try to get help to save the nursery.

'No guarantee'

Fielding's office said in the past year, the province has already provided Garderie des Bambins with a start-up grant of about $6,000 for its expansion spaces and approximately $9,500 to support hiring a new worker as well as giving funding for the month of October in advance.

"There is no guarantee when funds will flow and all centres must wait their turn based on a variety of criteria," said Fielding's press secretary, Andrea Slobodian, in an email.

Turenne said the daycare is serving a special target demographic that should make it worthy of funding.
Paul Turenne is worried about the future of the daycare. (Wildinette Paul/CBC)

"I would argue we're a bit of a special circumstance because of the French language situation," he said.

Slobodian said the province may consider using bilateral federal funding it plans to receive to fund new spaces at Garderie des Bambins.

But Pat Wege, the executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association, said she worries Manitoba is stalling on signing the agreement, which four provinces have already signed.

"We're constantly asking the minister about what's happening here in Manitoba."

With files from Radio Noon, Austin Grabish and Radio-Canada

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