ECE & Labor Market Shifts: Parent Essentials
15 April 2023
I grew up in a country where children are mostly raised and looked after by their mother. An alternative childcare arrangement would often mean that the caregiver is either a grandparent or some other family relative. So, the concept of a stranger being a substitute for any of these alternative options have always been alien to me. As immigrants living in Toronto away from the immediate family, we didn’t have the scope to leave our child in their care once I completed my maternity leave.
So, several months into my pregnancy, like most parents, my husband and I started researching daycares. We were keen on learning about the degrees, certifications, or training requirements for the caregivers, and finding out the child-to-caregiver ratio in the city. We sent in our first application when my child was only two weeks old and were on the waitlist for many months in all the daycares that received our application. It wasn’t until my child turned eleven months that we could finally secure a spot among the several daycares we applied to.
Canada has varied childcare options, ranging from nannies, home daycare and daycare centers, to before and after school services. Childcare services may be regulated or unregulated. The demand for licensed childcare has been high for some time. In March 2022, Ontario secured a six-year, $13.2 billion agreement with the federal government which will lower fees for families and deliver an average of $10 per day childcare by September 2025. Currently the province has begun subsidizing childcare fees by more than 50 per cent. Under this deal, the province committed to create 86,000 new child-care spaces and 33,000 new spaces have already been delivered towards this plan.
As licensed childcare has become more affordable, more families are now showing interest in enrolling their child in daycare. Some experts have raised concerns that there won’t be enough workers to staff the new spaces. The labour force attachment of individuals with children are directly linked to the availability of childcare support. This is particularly true for mothers. According to the LFS, the proportion of core-aged (25 to 54 years old) women employed in the country in January 2023 hit a record high of 82.2%. This increase may reflect increased job opportunities associated with a tight labour market as well as access to affordable childcare. So, the childcare industry is an important economic driver to any country. In addition, high-quality childcare is essential to child development, positive family outcomes, greater gender equity and poverty reduction.
Given the importance of this industry and the key occupations associated with the industry-Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and Early Childhood Assistant (ECAs), this year TWIG will explore the labour market conditions for this industry to determine the demand for these occupations in the province of Ontario and particularly the City of Toronto.
Mahjabeen Mamoon is the Senior Manager of Research at Toronto Workforce Innovation Group.