If a student cannot attend before and after school care due to the recent Public Health orders, parents will not need to pay for the spot.

Families Minister Rochelle Squires says more than 10,000 children are being affected by the province-directed closures of before and after school spots in Brandon and Winnipeg until the end of May.

"I want to also assure parents of children in these spaces that they will not be expected to pay child care fees and they will retain their child care spots during this period," Squires says in a Wednesday press conference.

The $1.9 million commitment will be given directly to the facilities, who are not to bill parents for the unused spots. The spots will be reserved for the child's return.

Children of critical care workers and children who have disabilities requiring extra care are able to still receive care.

Applicable child care centres and licenced home daycares that are eligible will be contacted by the province Wednesday afternoon. Centres will need to apply for the funding. The Minister says if closures extend, support will as well.

She says currently more than 4,000 daycare spots are vacant in Manitoba if a parent or caregiver is looking. Those working in daycares will be seeing an increase in PPE support, allocating each worker four masks a day instead of one with the worker picking up the tab for others needed.

Many parents were greatly affected by the first school closures one year ago. Squires says the open care vacancies are an indicator of parent employment.

"That means there are 4,100 fewer Manitobans working today than before the pandemic and we want to ensure that all Manitobans get back to work as soon as possible in the post-pandemic era. And we know that having a strong, robust child care sector is essential to that post-pandemic recovery."

The province previously announced COVID-19 related sick leave and vaccination supports