TORONTO - The Ontario government is establishing a regulatory body to maintain professional standards among child-care practitioners.

Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers says the College for Early Childhood Educators will be a first in Canada.

The $12-million cost of the college is included in more than $142 million in new child-care funding announced Thursday.

The bulk of the money, $105.7 million, will be used to sustain 7,376 licensed child-care spaces in Ontario, as well as 300 new spaces for aboriginal children in targeted off-reserve communities.

Almost $25 million will be used to provide a wage increase of about three per cent for some 33,500 child-care workers.

But the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care calls the announcement "another patch in the patchwork of child-care services'' in the province.

It says wages for child-care workers are already so low that a raise of a few hundred dollars per year won't entice any more professionals to enter the field.

Chambers says child-care professionals in licensed settings who want to upgrade their qualifications will be eligible for grants to help them with the costs.