The waiting game: a critical analysis of childcare waiting lists in Winnipeg

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Albl, Michelle
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Winnipeg is a city with high rates of child poverty, a high Aboriginal population, and a chronic shortage of childcare spaces. Some neighbourhoods have more and better services than others – yet all areas of the city have long waiting lists for childcare services. In some municipal wards, prospective parent users will face a delay of between one and four years for a childcare space. This thesis interrogates the distribution of childcare spaces and childcare waitlists throughout the city, showing how waitlists and services systematically differ between more and less affluent wards, and by wards with higher and lower percentages of Aboriginal families. These findings are particularly important for public policy. Manitoba has developed a new on-line centralized registration and waitlist system that was launched in Brandon, Manitoba in the fall of 2010. The provincial government has declared it will use this centralized data to guide the funding and expansion of new childcare services. A close examination of waitlist and services in Winnipeg, however, strongly predicts an unintended outcome: rather than promoting more and better access to childcare services, the provincial registration and waitlist strategy is more likely to result in a further maldistribution of access and service, reproducing an existing socio-economic gradient that particularly disadvantages Aboriginal and low-income parents.
childcare, waitlists