Access to childcare is essential, college students say

By: Nathan Richison

For many, childcare is hard enough to find. But it can be even more challenging for parents who are in school.

“I arrived in Canada last year in August, so the first time was very challenging for me, you know, finding a daycare, actually… I was visiting like six places,” said Carmen Jimenez, an International Business student at Red River College Polytechnic.

Jimenez uses the childcare services at RRC Polytech’s Notre Dame Campus. She said it’s both comforting and a blessing to have her four-year-old son close to her during school hours.

Some students depend on access to childcare to continue with their studies, like Applied Account student Jaimi Berry.

“[Without on-campus childcare] I wouldn’t have been able to actually come to in-person classes. I would have to do all online as I could not find childcare anywhere else,” said Berry, who attends the Notre Dame Campus.

A survey by Statistics Canada found that “For parents using child care who reported having difficulties finding it, the most common consequences included changing their work or study schedule.”

The outdoor play area of the Notre Dame Campus childcare centre on January 17, 2023. (Nathan Richison)

Currently, the Notre Dame Campus’ childcare facility offers space for 51 children between 18 months and five years old.

The childcare facility’s website states that current rates are $30 per day for children under two years old, and $20.80 per day for children aged two to five.

Metti Hambisa said she feels lucky to have got a space at the on campus childcare centre.

“Yeah, especially for those like the small kids under two. They only have four spots,” she said.

She has one child in care on campus and one child in care off campus because of limitations on available spaces, Hambisa said.

While the college’s Notre Dame Campus does offer childcare, its Exchange District Campus does not.

There was a daycare in the old Scott Fruit building before its transformation into part of the Manitou a bi Bii daziigae building, said Prachi Chawla, VP External Affairs at the RRC Polytech Students’ Association.

Chawla said there is a desire from students with children at the Exchange District Campus for on-campus childcare or access to local childcare.

“I do consider it as an important component if the college can arrange the space for it because, like, we have some students who, you know, who are not able to attend some classes due to the scheduling of their courses,” said Chawla.

Other post secondary institutions in Winnipeg provide on-campus childcare, such as The University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba, while also providing parents with different services like spaces for breastfeeding and pumping.