Registered early childhood educators across the province will have a little more cash in their wallets soon, as the Ontario government last week announced plans to increase wages for eligible workers by $1 an hour.
The increase is intended to help close the wage gap between registered early childhood educators working in full-day kindergarten programs and child care professionals in licensed child care settings. Another wage increase is planned for next year.
St. Jacobs Daycare supervisor and registered early childhood educator Denise Fretz says it’s a positive and welcome change.
“From my perspective it goes far beyond St. Jacobs Daycare,” Fretz said. “It really impacts all registered early childhood educators working in child care centres in Ontario. It certainly would begin to bridge the gap of wages between registered early childhood educators working in child care centres and for the school board.”
The province’s aim is to close the wage gap between RECEs in the public education system and those working for licensed child care providers.
Fretz said at this point they don’t have any more details about how and when the funds will be allocated.
“It’s a career that we want people to start hearing about and knowing it’s really important in early learning.”
Nancy Dickieson, director of children’s services and community services at the Region of Waterloo, said they’re also waiting on word from the province on how to go about the wage increase.
“The Region of Waterloo, as the system manager for licensed early learning and child care, will be responsible for administering and flowing the funding to our community operators for 2015. This will be done through an application process which will be developed in the coming months,” Dickieson said.
The wage enhancement funding will be available to all frontline child care staff, including RECEs, program staff, supervisors, private home day care visitors, and private home day care providers.
Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement last week. It’s part of the Child Care Modernization Act which was passed in December to “strengthen oversight of the province’s unlicensed child care sector and increase access to licensed child care options.”
“Parents deserve the peace of mind of knowing their children are in good hands,” Wynne said. “By investing in early childhood educators, we are supporting nurturing child care environments where children can thrive.”
To be eligible for the wage enhancement, centre-based staff must earn no more than $26.27 per hour. An equivalent daily rate has been set for private home daycare providers.
For Fretz, the wage increase is all about keeping the good quality educators they already have.
“It’s showing that the field is being respected and it’s about the equality of the registered early childhood educators within the school boards being equal to a registered early childhood educator in a daycare,” Fretz said. “It’s bridging that gap. It’s knowing that the government is seeing the importance of that and the importance of what we’re doing in early learning.”