A workforce shortage in Ontario’s early childcare industry is being exacerbated by the low wages earned by educators, according to an advocacy group. As a result, local childcare programs are being forced to limit enrollment and close rooms, leaving parents struggling to find affordable childcare options.
The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care warns that the situation was entirely predictable and preventable if the government had taken action to raise wages for Registered Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and childcare workers. Currently, ECEs in Ontario earn around $19 per hour, while about 41% of the workforce, including other childcare staff, earn only the minimum wage.
This places Ontario alongside Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories as the provinces with the lowest wages for ECEs. In contrast, the top-paying provinces and territories are Yukon and Prince Edward Island, with hourly rates of $32.08 and $27.11, respectively.
Rachel Neville, a former ECE in Ontario, shared her personal experience, highlighting the financial challenges faced by childcare workers. She had to bike to work because the cost of public transportation was unaffordable on her meager salary. Eventually, Neville made the difficult decision to leave her beloved profession due to the financial strain.
The Ontario government had previously agreed to introduce a wage floor of $18 an hour for early childhood educators under its $10-a-day childcare plan, with an incremental increase of $1 per year up to $25 an hour. However, progress on the wage increases has been slow, with Education Minister Stephen Lecce providing minimal updates.
Advocates are now calling for a significant raise in wages, proposing a range of $30 to $40 per hour for ECEs and a minimum increase to $25 per hour for other childcare staff. They argue that without substantial compensation improvements, the successful implementation of the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care system, which aims to provide $10-a-day daycare, will face significant challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How much do early childhood educators in Ontario earn?
Early childhood educators (ECEs) in Ontario currently earn around $19 per hour on average.
2. Which provinces pay their early childhood educators the least?
Aside from Ontario, ECEs in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories also have lower wages compared to other provinces.
3. What are the top-paying provinces or territories for early childhood educators in Canada?
Yukon and Prince Edward Island are the top-paying provinces/territories, with hourly rates of $32.08 and $27.11, respectively.
4. Has the Ontario government taken any steps to increase wages for early childhood educators?
The government had agreed to introduce a wage floor starting at $18 per hour, with an incremental increase of $1 per year up to $25 an hour. However, progress on these wage increases has been slow, with limited updates from the Education Minister.
5. What are advocates proposing regarding wage increases?
Advocates are urging a significant raise in wages, suggesting a range of $30 to $40 per hour for ECEs, and a minimum increase to $25 per hour for other staff. They believe that without substantial compensation improvements, the successful implementation of the $10-a-day daycare system will be challenging.