The impact of Wage Enhancement Programs on Child Care Workers in Ontario
Since 2014, the Government of Ontario has supported the recruitment and retention of RECEs in licensed child care centres through the Provincial Wage Enhancement (PWE) Grant. In 2023, the Ontario government made an ongoing funding commitment to support a wage enhancement for eligible child care professionals working in licensed child care settings. The PWE funding aims to close the wage gap between RECE wages in the education and licensed child care sectors; help licensed centres retain RECEs/child care staff; and support greater employment and income security.
In November 2023, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Ontario’s launching of the most significant and comprehensive Child Care Workforce Strategy to date with a plan that includes increasing the starting wage (minimum wage) and wage ceiling for RECEs employed by child care operators enrolled in the CWELCC system. RECEs working in licensed child care programs that opt into the $10 a day child care agreement can also be eligible for some new workforce compensation funding. There are two separate streams of the workforce compensation funding: the Wage Floor and the Annual Increase. In 2023, RECE program staff working in licensed child care had a wage floor of $19/hour, and RECE child care supervisors or RECE Home Child Care Visitors had a wage floor of $21/hour.
Table 8: Wage Grid of Key Occupations in Child Care, Ontario
|2024 wage floor
|2025 wage floor
|2026 wage floor
|RECE Program Staff
|RECE Child Care Supervisors
RECE Home Child Care Visitors
Source: Province of Ontario
Table 8 shows the wage grid of key occupations in the child care industry from 2024-2026. Starting in 2024, the minimum wage of RECEs in most licensed child-care centres is set to rise to $23.86/hour, up from a planned increase to $20/hour. The strategy also calls for RECE supervisors and Home Child Care Visitors to see a wage boost from $22/hour to $24.86/hour. Starting wages will increase by $1/hour each year through to 2026. The wage ceiling is also set to rise. Any RECE program staff making less than $26/hour will be eligible for the existing annual increase of up to $1/hour. 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.
The Province of Ontario expects 75% of RECEs currently working in child care centres that opted in the CWELCC agreement will benefit from the wage bump attracting more individuals into becoming RECEs. This new hourly rate will bring them in line with the starting wages of RECEs working in a public school board, helping to narrow the wage gap and create interest in the profession. The workforce strategy also includes funding to establish a dedicated professional development day, and doubling funding for a program that helps non-ECE child-care staff get an ECE diploma by paying their tuition and other costs.