The Ontario government is launching a multipronged Child Care Workforce Strategy to address existing workforce shortages in the licensed child care sector and provide more affordable and accessible child care to families.
As of January 2024, starting wages for Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) within the Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) system will be raised to $23.86/hour from the planned $20/hour. This 19.3 per cent increase will apply to all new hires and current employees getting paid less than $23.86/hour. This new hourly rate will bring them in line with the starting wages of school board-employed RECEs, helping to narrow the gap and create interest in the profession. The strategy also calls for RECE supervisors and home child care visitors to see a wage increase from $22/hour to $24.86/hour. Starting wages will increase by $1/hour each year through to 2026.
Also beginning January 2024, RECE program staff making less than $26/hour will be eligible for the existing annual increase of up to $1/hour, helping to support wage progression throughout their career. In 2025, eligibility will be expanded to include those earning less than $27/hour, and in 2026 for those earning less than $28/hour. Currently, only RECEs earning less than $25/hour are eligible for this increase. RECE supervisors and home child care visitors earning less than $29/hour in 2024, less than $30/hour in 2025, and less than $31/hour in 2026 will also be eligible for the annual increase. These wage increases build upon the previously implemented wage floor for all RECEs to ensure Ontario is recruiting qualified educators across the province.
These wage enhancements will provide RECEs working in Ontario with a competitive salary and will benefit 75 per cent of current program staff, while also attracting more individuals to become early childhood educators.
More Learning, Training and Labour Mobility
Other key measures to further support recruitment and retention of RECEs in child care settings across the province include:
- Investing $18.5 million per year to fund a dedicated PD day to strengthen training, including in areas of mental health
- Enhancing funding for the Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Qualifications Upgrade Program to help more students with at least six months of experience to obtain their ECE diploma with administrative costs covered
- Continuing to support the Dual Credit program in secondary schools so students can get early exposure and earn credits towards a career as an early childhood educator
- Creating an Innovation Fund to establish regional ECE school-to-work planning partnerships from municipalities to school boards to employers and support local solutions to workforce challenges
- Working with sector partners to support ECE career pathways and training opportunities
- Collaborating with Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) partners on inter-provincial/territorial mobility and foreign credential recognition for RECEs to ensure seamless movement of qualified staff across Canada and from around the world
Cutting Red Tape
The strategy will also help reduce administrative burden by:
- Providing child care operators with greater flexibility to staff programs for children aged six and up by broadening the qualified staff requirements
- Clarifying that it is permissible for ECE students to complete their placements at their place of work in a licensed child care centre
Promoting the Profession
The Child Care Workforce Strategy also aims to build the profile of the profession by launching a promotional campaign to raise awareness about the ECE profession, the value and impact of their work, and help attract talented individuals from across Canada.
Ongoing Monitoring and Assessment of Progress
As the strategy rolls out, Ontario will track and monitor key indicators to measure the impact on RECE recruitment and retention.
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