Ontario to boost early childhood educator wages in bid to ease staff shortage
Ontario is set to increase the wages of early childhood educators in a bid to boost recruitment and retention amid a staff shortage that advocates warn could hamper the growth of the national $10-a-day child-care program.
The government has drafted -- but not yet released -- a child-care workforce strategy based on consultations held earlier this year with dozens of groups, including advocates, experts, operators, municipalities and colleges.
- Download our app to get local alerts on your device
- Get the latest local updates right to your inbox
The Canadian Press obtained Ministry of Education summaries on those consultation sessions through a Freedom of Information request and they show that the government was overwhelmingly told variations of "pay ECEs more."
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in an interview with The Canadian Press that he received the feedback "loud and clear."
"What we heard is that we've got to do more to create more incentives to retain the workers and to recruit new ones, because we need thousands of additional workers to meet the needs to fill the 86,000 spaces that the province is on track to create," he said.
"My assurance to the ECEs, to the workers in the sector, is that we're going to go further."
Ontario committed in its deal with the federal government on $10-a-day child-care to set a wage floor of $18 an hour in 2022 and increase it by $1 a year up to $25. But Lecce said he is heeding the calls to do more.
"I think these workers deserve it," he said, while not specifying what the increase will be.
The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario has called for a minimum of $30 an hour for ECEs and $25 an hour for non-ECE staff members. Either one or two of the workers in a child-care room are required to be an ECE, depending on the age of the children.
Alana Powell, the association's executive director, said she is cautiously optimistic at the news that Lecce has committed to further increasing ECE pay, but worries it will still be less than what's needed and will be delayed by the rollout of a broader child-care workforce strategy.
"We know wages are the issue, we know the wage floor is far too low...so why aren't we just sort of immediately addressing low wages while we continue to build these other longer-term strategies out?" she said.
Child-care centres have traditionally relied on parent fees to largely fund operations, including staff wages, but under the $10-a-day program they cannot raise fees, and have asked the province to fund raises for ECEs in order to attract and retain them.
The YMCA says that due to staff shortages, none of its child-care locations provincewide operate at full licensed capacity. It would need nearly 3,000 more staff to do that, and almost 3,500 in order to expand by 20 per cent.
Unless the 86,000 new spaces promised by the province are accompanied by improved workforce compensation, child-care operators will struggle to implement the new child-care system, the agency told the government in a blunt assessment at the start of the consultations.
"Our position on that would be to pause on expansion until we get the workforce issues dealt with," Linda Cottes, the YMCA of Greater Toronto senior vice-president of child and family development said in an interview this week.
"How can you move forward If we're still struggling with getting enough qualified staff?"
Ministry documents from the start of the consultations show that officials estimate the province could be 8,500 ECEs short by 2026.
And while the province plans to create 86,000 new child-care spaces, Ontario's financial accountability officer has estimated the additional demand spurred by lower fees will outpace the current expansion plans by more than 220,000 spaces by 2026.
Shortages are already affecting the sector. The number of ECEs in licensed child care decreased by seven per cent between 2019 and 2021, government documents say. Child-care centres have had to close rooms because they are unable to staff them.
About 4,200 new students enroll in an early childhood education program each year and the average graduation rate is about 72 per cent, but only about half of registered ECEs choose to work in licensed child care, according to the government.
Some of the people and organizations in the consultations told the government to raise ECE wages to be on par with school board pay -- around $28 an hour on average, advocates say -- because the higher pay entices many to work in full-day kindergarten instead of child care.
A summary by the government lists dozens of other workforce suggestions from the consultations, including offering pensions, benefits and a wage grid, adding ECEs to a list of priority occupations under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, accelerated tuition-free diploma programs, and a provincial media campaign to recognize the value of early childhood educators.
Carolyn Ferns, the policy co-ordinator for the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, said a media campaign wouldn't hurt, but it's certainly not the priority.
"It's the thing that I would do after I'd solved the core issue, the root of the problem, which is the low wages in the sector," she said in an interview.
"A media campaign telling people child care is a great place to work, that's only going to work if it really becomes a great place to work."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Threat of U.S. government shutdown ends as Congress passes a temporary funding plan and sends it to Biden
The threat of a U.S. federal government shutdown ended late Saturday, hours before a midnight deadline, as Congress approved a temporary funding bill to keep agencies open and sent the measure to President Joe Biden to sign.
The Toronto Blue Jays are returning to the post-season. Toronto secured an American League playoff spot when the visiting Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1 tonight.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre found himself the subject of online criticism after posting photos with an Inuk elder alongside a caption about meeting with Algonquin elders on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Seas of orange flooded events across the country on Saturday as Canadians gathered to acknowledge systemic oppression of Indigenous people and observe the third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
A jury on Thursday found a delivery driver not guilty in the shooting of a YouTube prankster who followed him around a mall food court earlier this year.
W5 Ferraris worth nearly $1M seized from Edmonton men linked to Pivot Airlines drug-smuggling scandal
Two Edmonton men at the centre of an international cocaine-trafficking scandal that led to the detainment of a Canadian airline crew in the Dominican Republic last year are back in the spotlight. They're facing numerous charges after police seized a pair of stolen Ferraris worth roughly $1 million.
The NFL is airing a special animated broadcast featuring 'Toy Story' characters when the Atlanta Falcons play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
After first being captured over a century ago, scientists have re-discovered a species of bat that hasn't been seen since 1916.
'Reconciliation is a lifelong experience': Gov. Gen. Mary Simon reflects on Truth and Reconciliation
On the third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon says that while she acknowledges the time it takes to fulfill calls to action, she also understands the frustrations that progress is too slow, and she feels 'we should speed things up.'
An orange tide flowed through the streets of Montreal on Saturday afternoon as part of a march to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Hundreds of people gathered at the foot of Mount Royal in the early afternoon before marching to Place du Canada in downtown Montreal.
Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, the University of Montreal Hospital (CHUM) is bringing back its mask mandate starting Monday. The rule applies to anyone entering a patient’s room or care area—including visitors, staff and physicians, a CHUM spokesperson confirmed in a statement to CTV News on Saturday.
The Societe de transport de Montreal (STM) is equipping special metro constables with a gel form of pepper spray to deal with violence. The irritant would be used "as a last resort in cases where safety is at stake," said an STM spokesperson in a statement Friday.
‘Building relationships’: Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies bring together Indigenous members and local municipalities
Across the region, communities and organizations held events to mark Truth and Reconciliation Day.
Elgin County OPP is investigating a fatal single-vehicle collision that claimed the life of a 29-year-old driver.
‘The legacy that’s been left’: Annual ride for Children’s Health Foundation renamed after late founder
For 27 years motorcycle riders have gathered for the annual Fall Colour Ride to raise money for the Children’s Health Foundation (CHF) in London, Ont.
'The hard work is yet to come': Waterloo Region marks third national day for Truth and Reconciliation
A sea of orange filled the streets of Kitchener Saturday morning as the sound of drummers and singers emanated throughout the city’s downtown core.
The True North Reconciliation Walk gave locals a chance to reflect and remember in a tranquil environment.
A community collaboration at Wilfrid Laurier University is shining a brighter light on Indigenous culture.
Young and old gathered in a circle around a sacred fire on Saturday in Espanola in support of reconciliation.
A worker who was found unconscious Friday at the Cote Gold Mine site in Gogama has died, officials said Friday.
NEW THIS MORNING
The annual Panda Game between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens football teams takes place today and both universities are hoping to keep the parties surrounding it civil.
The calendar says it's the last day of September, but the weather forecast feels much more like summer.
Orange t-shirts were a common sight in Ottawa on Saturday as thousands commemorated the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.
Rental listing catches eye of councillor, off-duty WPS officer charged, Unifor and Ford ratify deal: Top Windsor stories this week
A “disturbing” rental listing caught the eye of a Windsor councillor, an off-duty Windsor police officer has been charged with assault in Ottawa, and Unifor members narrowly ratified a new three-year collective agreement with Ford. Here’s a look at the top stories on ctvnewswindsor.ca this week.
A Windsor resident is facing multiple charges after police seized $6,750 worth of drugs and loaded firearm from a Church Street home.
Windsor police issued 58 tickets during a Friday afternoon traffic blitz.
Several police cruisers and a forensics van could be seen parked outside a home located on Lawson Street on Saturday.
A Huntsville man faces charges after a robbery in Gravenhurst on Thursday afternoon.
York police have issued a warning to the public following a string of opioid overdoses, one of them fatal, in the Newmarket area.
The University of Prince Edward Island marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a ceremony Friday, which is part of a week of events leading up to Truth and Reconciliation Day and Treaty Day, organized through the university’s Mawi’omi Centre.
A new survey found that 48 per cent of Canadians say they won’t be taking any specific action to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Truth and Reconciliation Day started in Charlottetown with a flag lowering ceremony, before going to UPEI to do a meaningful exercise.
Calgary Flames vice-president of data and analytics and assistant general manager Chris Snow has died of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
A man is in hospital in serious condition after what police believe is a targeted shooting in northwest Calgary.
'Wear your shirt throughout the year': Winnipeg marks third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
A sea of orange flowed through downtown Winnipeg Saturday for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
As Manitobans marked the third National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, an event in Winnipeg's North End remembered Residential School victims and those affected by the Sixties Scoop.
CTV News Winnipeg was delving through the rabbit hole of past elections, finding facts that Manitobans may have not known.
Thousands of British Columbians donned orange shirts and listened attentively at events marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, with many Indigenous leaders expressing appreciation and optimism that the country is at a turning point.
The Langley Rams football club started its game Saturday with an acknowledgement of National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and a tribute to Const. Rick O’Brien.
Angie and Alex Walker were both drafted in the inaugural Canadian National Pickleball League — Angie was the top pick and Alex was picked eighth.
From a new garden on the Alberta Legislature Grounds, to cultural performances and history lessons – people in the Edmonton area marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with different events over the weekend.
The president of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada is defending a Second World War veteran of a Nazi unit who was recently lauded as a hero in Canada's Parliament.