Wage hike for early childhood educators ‘good news’
Increase of almost four dollars an hour to begin in 2024
Ontario’s recently announced wage hike for Early Childhood Educators is welcome news for the Cochrane district, according to a spokesperson for the local social services administration board.
“The new wage floor set at $23.86 is good news,” said Cameron Grant, communications manager with the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board. “We’re certainly celebrating.”
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce made the announcement on Nov. 16. The wage increase begins in 2024 and is intended to solve staffing shortages in licensed childcare centres, where Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) make $19 an hour.
“We’re seeing a bit of a cannibalization of our ECEs from our childcare centres into our kindergarten programs,” Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said in an interview.
The Cochrane District is currently short 110 ECEs in licensed child care centres.
As a result of the staffing shortage, 1,000 childcare spaces (funded by the federal-provincial agreement to get childcare down to $10 a day), are going unfilled in the district.
The wage increase only applies to centres that have signed onto the $10-a-day national childcare system.
Grant stressed that good early childhood education is critical to building the future success of communities in northern Ontario.
“Paying ECEs more acknowledges their role in child welfare and in providing parents with peace of mind when they leave their children in viable institutions while they’re at work during the day. That helps local economies,” Grant added.
The CDSSAB is still waiting for 2024 funding guidelines from the ministry.
However the ministry’s own officials have warned the public could be short 8,500 ECEs by 2026, when Ontario hopes to have created 86,000 new spaced under that system.
“We’re not only in a position where we need to attract ECEs, we also need to encourage ECEs who’ve left to return to the field,” Grant said.
To that end the City of Timmins recently launched a digital marketing campaign focusing on professions in education, including Early Childhood Education.
The campaign, created by the Timmins Economic Development Corporation, is running provincially and nationally in northwestern Quebec, northern Manitoba, and parts of Alberta.
The provincial government also announced Nov.16 their own plans for a promotional campaign for the ECE profession.
Advocates were pleased at the news of the wage increase, but said it doesn’t go far enough. The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario would like to see a wage grid that would allow for a salary progression, and benefits and pensions.
Grant acknowledged providing benefits and a pension is always a challenge for private businesses.
“There are programs out there. Certainly, the ministry could look at programs that allow private business owners to subscribe to an insurance plan,” he said.