A guide for parents in Canada

Manitoba

Who’s responsible?

Who to contact

  • Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care (child care services)
  •   Website
  •   (204) 945-0776
  •   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care, part of Manitoba Family Services is responsible for child care overall. Manitoba Education is responsible for kindergarten.  

Early Learning and Child Care administers the legislation and oversees the operation of child care in the province. Monitoring, licensing and administration of the fee subsidy program is provided through local offices.

Finding child care

Facts and figures

  • There is a regulated space for 17.6% of children age 0-12. (2014)
  • There is a regulated full or part-time space for 22.9% of children aged 0 – 5 yrs. (2014)
  • 95% regulated child care is operated by non-profit organizations.
  • There is no publicly delivered child care.
  • Most child care services in Manitoba charge fees set by age group by the provincial government; there are a few regulated centres that do not receive government funding that are free to set their own rates.

Parents are responsible for finding and obtaining a child care space for their child(ren); there is no entitlement.

Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care has created an online licensed child care search tool that allows parents to search for child care centres and family child care by type of care, location and age of child(ren). Parents are also able to limit the search to centres with vacancies. This search tool is designed to allow parents to browse potential child care options without registering or actively placing their child’s name on a waiting list.

Manitoba has established an online child care registry which serves as a centralized waiting list. The registry provides information about child care services to parents and places child(ren) on waiting lists of centres and family child care that meet the individual family’s needs. Parents are able to update and/or change their information at any point.

The Government of Manitoba has created A parent’s guide to quality child care. This document defines the different types of care, describes important regulations, and provides lists of questions to ask prospective providers.

Paying for child care

In Manitoba, parents are responsible for paying child care fees. However, maximum fees by age group are set by the government (services usually set fees at the maximum amount allowed). Manitoba increased the maximum fees by $1 for each age group in the summer of 2013.

See 2015 data on child care fees from the 27 largest cities in Canada for a more detailed look at the breakdown of child care costs nationally.

Note that provincially-mandated maximum fees only apply to funded child care centres. There is a limited number of unfunded regulated child care services (ordinarily for-profit centres) where these fees do not apply.

Maximum daily child care fees by care type and age group in Manitoba effective July 1, 2013
Age groupCentres and trained
family child care providers
Family child care
Infants $30.00 $22.20
Preschool $20.80 $18.20
School-age (full day) $20.80 $18.20
School-age
(before/lunch/after)
$10.30 $10.30
girl in high heels

Some parents may be eligible for a partial or full subsidy through the child care fee subsidy program. Eligibility for a subsidy is determined through a province-wide income test and parental employment/schooling status.

Regulated non-profit and for-profit centres and family child care providers are eligible to enroll subsidized children. There are no fee subsidies for children in unregulated child care.

A separate fee subsidy for nursery schools was established in 2006. Parents do not need to be working or going to school to be eligible – only the income test is applied.

Accessing subsidies

A fee subsidy estimator is available online so parents can estimate whether, and how much fee  subsidy would be available to them. Fully-subsidized parents may be required to pay a non-subsidized fee of $2/day.

Application for a subsidy may be made by mail or online. To apply online you must be registered with Manitoba’s Child Care Online.

Regulated child care

In Manitoba, child care centres, nursery schools (half-day centre-based programs or full days less than three days/week), family child care homes, and occasional child care centres (care on a casual basis for more than 4 children) are regulated by the The Community Child Care Standards Act. This act defines the types of child care that need regulating and sets out licensing standards.

Manitoba makes licensing order histories available online. These provide details about specific child care services such as what regulation(s) were violated, and description of the circumstances.

A number of regulations related to program quality are highlighted below.

  • In full-time child care centres, two thirds of the staff must have a diploma in early childhood education or an approved degree.
  • In school-age centres and nursery schools, half the staff must have a diploma in early childhood education or an approved degree.
  • In full-time preschool centre, the director must have one year experience working with children in child care or in a related field and an approved degree from a recognized university or an approved diploma in early childhood education plus a recognized certificate program.
  • In a school-age centre or nursery school, the director must have an approved diploma in early childhood education and at least one year of experience working with children in a related setting, or an ECE III.
  • In family child care, staff are required to complete an approved 40-hour course from a community college in family child care or early childhood education. They must also have a valid first-aid certificate that includes CPR training and a criminal reference check.
  • Staff:child ratios address the number of staff required per number of children.
  • Group size is the number of children, usually of one age group, that stay together throughout the day in a defined group – often a room.
  • Family child care homes have a specified number of children by age.

Child care centres

Centres can have a maximum of two groups of children per room.

Staff:child ratios and maximum group sizes
Age of childStaff:child ratioMax group size
Child care centres
12 weeks – 1year 1:3 6
1-2 years 1:4 8
2-3 years 1:6 12
3-4 years 1:8 16
4-5 years 1:9 18
5-6 years 1:10 20
6-12 years 1:15 30
Centre-based mixed-age centres
12 weeks – 2 years 1:4 8
2-6 years 1:8 16
6-12 years 1:15 30
Nursery school
12 weeks – 2 years 1:4 8
2-6 years 1:10 20

Family child care

  • Regulated family child care (one provider) can have a maximum of eight children under12 years (including provider’s own children) with no more than five children under six years, of whom no more than three children may be under two years.
  • Group child care homes (two providers) can have a maximum of twelve children under 12 years (including provider’s own children) with no more than three children under two years.
  • Snacks must be provided if the child attends the centre for at least a three-hour period.
  • If a child attends a facility for more than six hours a day, a nutritious meal (as outlined in the Canada Food Guide) and two nutritious snacks must be provided. Menus must be posted in an easy-to-see place.

Child care centres are required to have an outdoor play space within 350 metres of the centre for full time centres or nursery school, or within 700 meters for school age centres. Children must be provided the opportunity to play outdoors on a “daily basis”, though a specific time period is not specified.

Centres and family child care providers are required to have their own written behavioural management policies and procedures with respect to discipline, punishment and isolation. The regulations prohibit child care providers from inflicting any form of physical punishment, verbal degradation, emotional deprivation, and/or denial of basic necessities.

All licensed non-profit centres are required to have boards of directors where parents constitute a minimum of 20% of the board members. For-profit centres are required to have parent advisory committees.

The regulations require some basic health and safety precautions to be met. For example, service providers are required to:

  • Have clearly articulated emergency procedures (i.e., emergency contacts, evacuation plan, etc…).
  • Have protocol for reporting serious occurrences to licensing authorities.
  • Have an anaphylaxis policy.
  • Have protocol for accommodating and/or sending home sick children, sanitary diapering and handwashing procedures and guidelines for the storage and administration of prescription medication to children.

Unregulated child care

A child care provider in a private home can legally care for a maximum of four children, including their own children under 12 years. Please see Manitoba’s unlicensed private home child care fact sheet for parents.

School-age child care provided in public schools may be exempt from licensing.

Children with disabilities

Manitoba’s Child Care Inclusion Support Program provides funds to non-profit child care centres, nursery schools, and family and group child care homes to provide the additional support necessary to include children with disabilities into the program. Providers are responsible for applying for this program.

Parents are required to pay the same basic cost of child care as other families but not the additional support costs.

Families in which any member has a disability may be given consideration in the fee subsidy application process. Financial eligibility is the first factor in assessing eligibility using income-based testing.

See Do you have a child with a disability or special need? for more information on provincial/territorial supports for children with disabilities in child care.