A guide for parents in Canada


Who’s responsible?

Who to contact

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

Through the Department of Families, the Early Learning and Child Care Program monitors and licenses early learning and child care centres in the province. Manitoba’s Department of Education and Training is responsible for kindergarten.  

The Early Learning and Child Care program is also responsible for administering child care subsidy to families.

Finding child care

Facts and figures

  • There is a regulated space for 18.7% of children aged 0-12 years. (2019)
  • There is a regulated full or part-time space for 25% of children aged 0 – 5 years. (2019)
  • 95% regulated child care is operated by non-profit organizations. (2019)
  • There is no publicly delivered child care.
  • Most child care services in Manitoba charge fees set by the provincial government; there are a few regulated centres that do not receive government funding and 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.

The Early Learning and Child Care Program has 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.

In December 2020, the government of Manitoba introduced a new Manitoba Child Care Search tool to connect Manitoba families directly with licensed child care facilities. Using this tool, families can search for facilities that meet their needs based on location, hours and availability. Once families find a facility that has an open space and meets their needs, they can contact the facility directly to arrange their child care service.

The Department of Families has put together A Guide to Child Care in Manitoba to help families choose the right licensed child care setting for their family, highlight the importance of play-based programs, and provide information on health and safety, including maximum group sizes and staff to child ratios.

Paying for child care

Families are responsible for paying child care fees.

However, the province has set maximum child care fees - that vary by age group - for all child care services receiving funding from the province. Services usually set fees at the maximum amount allowed. (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.)

The 2017 Child Care Fee Survey found the full-day, full-time median monthly infant fee in Winnipeg was $651, and $451 for both toddlers and preschoolers (including both child care centre and regulated home child care data). See the report for median monthly child care costs in 27 other Canadian cities.


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.

Families may be eligible for subsidy regardless of whether they are using regulated non-profit or for-profit centres or family child care providers. There are no fee subsidies for children in unregulated child care.

Although financial criteria must be met, families can receive subsidy for nursery school service without employment or enrolment in education/training (including a stay-at-home parent).

Accessing subsidies

The Subsidy Eligibility Estimator (SEE) is available online for parents to estimate whether, and how much fee subsidy would be available to them. Fully-subsidized parents are required to pay a non-subsidized fee of $2/day.

Eligible families must apply online. To apply for subsidy, parents must register at Child Care Online. Once registered, a username and password will be provided and families will have 30 days to complete their application.

For more information about applying for subsidy, contact the Child Care Subsidy Program at 204-945-8195 (in Winnipeg), Toll-free at 1-877-587-6224, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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 Community Child Care Standards Act and regulations. 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.
  • Family child care providers are required to have successfully completed an approved post secondary 40 hour course relevant to early childhood education or family child care within their first year of operating. They must also have a valid first-aid certificate that includes CPR training and background checks including a criminal record, child abuse registry, and prior contact with a Child and Family Services Agency checks.
  • 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 under 12 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.

The regulations do not address all aspects of quality. For example, there are no regulations or standards addressing curriculum or pedagogy in child care in Manitoba.

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. No more than two children may be less than two years of age. 

The provincial government does not monitor unlicensed private home child care. Please see Manitoba’s unlicensed private home child care fact sheet for parents for more information. 

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

Children with disabilities

The 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.

Please refer to A Guide to the Inclusion Support Program for more information.

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

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.

Last modified on Thursday, 04 February 2021 12:50