Moving Forward


Wages of child care workers should be competitive enough to ensure that child care centres have an adequate supply of employees needed to run the facilities at optimum capacity. In November 2023 the government boosted both the wage ceiling and wage floor of RECEs, but whether this raise is competitive enough to recruit, retain existing child care workers and re-attract those who left the industry is an empirical question.   The government and other stakeholders need to monitor whether this increase is sufficient to attract more workers into the field. The child care landscape differs throughout the province of Ontario. For example, it may cost significantly more for an operator to run a licensed centre in Toronto when compared to other parts of Ontario. At the same time, the higher rental prices in the GTA may mean a child care worker living in this region is also likely to pay a larger portion of their income in living expenses. The funding formula for any industry should be able to identify and take into consideration these disparities in operating costs to ensure the fair and equitable creation and distribution of funding policy.


There is evidence that other occupations with roughly comparable qualifications like that of an ECE offer better wages. In addition, to work in licensed centres as an ECE, title holders must pay an annual fee of $160 to the College and these conditions may be prompting many members into letting their membership lapse after an average of three years. It is of the utmost importance that child care worker wages are reflective of their importance in the child care system.


We can also learn from best practices in other jurisdictions. For example, in early 2022, P.E.I. enhanced efforts to encourage trained child care workers who left the field to return. Announcing a $5,000 grant for certified level three ECEs who had been out of the child care workforce for more than two years. To qualify, candidates must be employed with a licensed early learning centre and must stay in the workforce for two years to avoid repaying the grant.


It is essential to create positive earning trajectories and occupational progression that recognize the experience and tenure of a child care worker. Child care workers must also have access to career enhancement opportunities like professional development, training, and qualification upgrade programs. Within a child care facility apart from ECEs or ECEAs, positions may also include Special Needs Educator, Pedagogist, Program Administrator, Program Manager, Program Supervisor, Assistant Director, Director, or Owner of a child care facility. Outside child care facilities, career path may include government employment within the Ministry of Education and Child Care, Advanced Education, or a local municipal government. Community service employment could also lead to positions such as Respite Provider, Child Advocate, Child Care Consultant (CCRR), Recreational Early Childhood Program Coordinator (Cruise ships, resorts, local community centres), Family Support Worker or Consultant, Behavioral Consultant, Strong Start or Head Start Facilitator, ECE Researcher, Post-Secondary ECE Instructor, or Post-Secondary Program Coordinator.


We need to find ways to recognize the experience of newcomer immigrants with international experience in child care or create smoother pathways for newcomers to become qualified as ECEs. In June 2019, the Province of Ontario launched a five-year pilot program called “The Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot”. These economic pilot programs were targeted to support foreign national caregivers with job offers or Canadian work experience in eligible caregiver occupations and who met the minimum education and language proficiency requirements. A similar approach recognizing the international experience of ECEs could be one way to help ease the supply shortage of ECEs in Ontario.


For decades many low-income families have been reliant on unlicensed child care providers. Especially those looking for low-cost services, non-standard hours, proximity to where they live and/or providers who share similar cultural backgrounds. However, there is little to no oversight of the unregulated child care in Ontario. To ensure greater public safety and quality of care, the government must explore ways to ensure proper standards for these services are met. More informal child care providers need to be supported so that eventually they can transition into regulated settings.

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