The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care welcomes the Ontario Government's recent confirmation of Year 2 of Provincial Wage Enhancement funding. This second $1/hr wage enhancement funding begins to recognize the importance of Early Childhood Educators and Child Care Workers as the key to quality programs. While the OCBCC continues to push for a full workforce strategy as part of a comprehensive child care system, this wage grant is an important way station and an acknowledgement of the value of staff working in licensed child care.
- Ministry of Education press release
- Ministry of Education backgrounder
- Ministry of Education Child Care Wage Enhancement Questions and Answers (updated Jan 2016)
- Toronto Star: Child care workers getting second pay raise in two years (Thank you to RECE Kristen Varley for speaking out in this story.)
Over the past year, the OCBCC voiced concerns about some of the challenges experienced by the sector during the roll-out of this grant. While not every issue has been addressed, we are pleased that the Ministry of Education has made some changes this year to improve the distribution of this grant including:
- The Ministry's Question and Answer document confirms that the Province is providing "one-time funding for administration in 2016.... CMSMs and DSSABs are required to provide a minimum of 10% of their 2016 administration funding allocation to operators to support implementing wage enhancement." Operators are urged to contact their service system manager for more information.
- The document also confirms "a supplemental grant to support shortfalls related to the wage enhancement. The funding can be used to provide wage enhancement for additional days/hours worked, sick time, off-site professional development days, and/or additional benefits."
These two changes begin to address some of the challenges experienced by our members during Year 1 of the grant. We will continue to amplify the voices of our members as the roll-out of Year 2 gets underway.
Moving forward, the OCBCC urges the Ontario government to build on the experience of this wage grant to acknowledge the need for a comprehensive child care workforce strategy to address the systemic issues of low wages, inconsistent working conditions and high turnover that continue to impact the early childhood education and care sector (ECEC) in Ontario.
With a new federal government that has committed to developing a National Early Learning and Child Care Framework, there is a tremendous opportunity to begin a constructive intergovernmental collaboration to build a real ECEC system in Ontario. This is the willing federal partner that Ontario has been waiting for. Ontario has an opportunity to be a leader on this Framework and it is a chance we must seize to finally build an ECEC system that meets the needs of Ontario's children, families and the child care workforce.