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Tom misdirects outrage over child care waits [CA-MB]

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Author: 
Prentice, Susan
Publication Date: 
11 Apr 2006
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As the University of Manitoba researcher charged by Tom Brodbeck (Child-care lobby's numbers are a joke, April 7) of doing "completely useless" and "lousy research," I would like to plead not guilty -- with an explanation.

Last month, I led a small research study for the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba. It discovered 14,758 names on Winnipeg child-care centre waiting lists. Winnipeg centres have a total of about 14,000 spaces. We pointed out, therefore, that there are more names on waiting lists than there are children in centres. We spoke to 292 of Winnipeg's 321 facilities, in every quadrant of the city -- discovering that 80% of them had a wait list. We concluded that waiting lists were a "demonstration of serious unmet demand."

Imagine, for a moment, that Tom Brodbeck cares about how many families are waiting to get their child into a licensed child-care centre. What would he do? He would likely take a deep breath and do what we did.

Let's take a step back. Why didn't we just phone the City of Winnipeg and ask them about the wait-list registry? The answer is that the city has no mandate regarding child care and no obligation to ensure neighbourhoods have equal access to service.

Why didn't we phone the Ministry of Family Services and Housing and ask them for reliable waiting-list numbers? The answer is the same. The province keeps no data on waiting lists.

Tom Brodbeck is scandalized that we can't say with precision how many individual children are on child-care waiting lists, confident that there are no duplications. So are we.

But let us direct our outrage at the appropriate targets. No public office keeps track of something as simple and important as a central child-care wait list. In fact, as a province, we have virtually no public planning capacity or public management of child-care services.

In dismissing this very real problem, Brodbeck's column missed the boat.

- reprinted from the Winnipeg Sun

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Entered Date: 
13 Apr 2006
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