Manitoba NDP calls for support for child-care workers amid Omicron surge

Manitoba’s Opposition NDP is calling on Premier Heather Stefanson and her government to provide more support to families and child-care workers.

In an announcement Friday, Opposition Leader Wab Kinew and MLAs Malaya Marcelino and Adrien Sala said steps need to be taken toward providing early childhood educators with resources like rapid tests and high-quality masks, as well as a recommended pay bump for those who are working with children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Families with young children are really struggling right now,” said Marcelino, the NDP’s status of women critic.

“But it doesn’t have to be this hard. Premier Stefanson said that government can’t protect people but she’s wrong. We believe the PC government has a responsibility to protect families and it starts with making sure every child-care worker and family has access to rapid tests and high-quality masks.”

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Marcelino was referring to Stefanson’s comments at a Wednesday press conference, where she indicated that “the government can’t protect everybody” and that Manitobans should take it upon themselves to be protected from the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

Read more: University of Manitoba survey shows child-care facilities are in distress

Among the solutions offered by the NDP: the provision of high-quality masks and rapid tests, ventilation upgrades to every child-care centre, a pandemic pay bump for staff, better financial support for centres that have struggled with staffing, and a sector-specific dashboard for reporting cases and improving communication.

The party’s response is in line with the findings of a recent University of Manitoba study that shows daycares are struggling with the Omicron variant and are in desperate need of government aid.

A microbiologist involved in the research told Global News on Wednesday that the results were pretty clear.

“We’re seeing really high numbers of child-care worker (COVID-19) cases,” said Aleeza Gerstein.

“We see high numbers of children, although the child-care centres themselves are not told when there’s a child associated with their centre who’s positive, so they no longer get any update from the government.

“And in many cases, because centres were closed, they actually have no idea how many of the children are currently positive or isolating due to COVID cases.”

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Click to play video: 'University of Manitoba survey shows child-care facilities are in distress' University of Manitoba survey shows child-care facilities are in distress

University of Manitoba survey shows child-care facilities are in distress

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