Manitoba

Staff, students fight for French daycare at ​Université de Saint-Boniface

​Université de Saint-Boniface staff and students are trying to pressure the university to build a francophone daycare.
David Alper of the ​Université de Saint-Boniface professors' association said the university is the only public post-secondary institution in Manitoba without a daycare. (CBC)

Université de Saint-Boniface staff and students are trying to pressure the university to build a francophone daycare. 

David Alper of the Saint-Boniface professors' association said after years of working on a $9-million dollar facility, the province denied funding for the project and the university administration has now abandoned it.

Alper said Saint-Boniface is the only public post-secondary institution in Manitoba without a daycare.

"I cannot understand how in 2015 this is not seen as a priority," he told CBC Tuesday.

A francophone daycare is critical if the French language and culture in Manitoba is to be to preserved, Alper said.

"We are the only public post-secondary institution in Manitoba that does not have an on-site daycare for staff and students. We also have an early childhood education program here. And that's an additional reason why we would need an on-site daycare. As well, for the francophone community in Manitoba the whole question of assimilation of young people is a real concern. It's very important that young children have access to daycare in French. We know there's a tremendous shortage of daycare spaces. And that shortage is even greater for French language daycares," he said.

Alper said the university should try again.

'Go back to the drawing board'

"There was a proposal submitted to the province. [It] was not accepted. [It] was felt the project could not meet the timelines. Instead of coming back with another proposal, the university has publicly said we're abandoning the project. So what we're suggesting is the university go back to the drawing board. A number of studies have been done that show this project can be feasible. We think if there's a will there's a way. We think this is a pressing need. One option would be to scale back the project."

Manitoba francophones are losing their voice he said, and the trend will only continue without specific support for crucial institutions.

"We see already there's more and more assimilation of young francophones in Manitoba. It's difficult for women, especially newcomers to get into the job market, to continue post-secondary education and get off social assistance. It just contributes to the double work day for women. It's an additional burden on young families. It makes a positive contribution to the economy because more women are working and contributing increased tax revenues. It's good for the economy. It makes good sense to build daycares," he said.

Officials at the university have yet to respond to CBC's inquiries. 

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