Empirical research consistently demonstrates that high-quality early childhood education and care is directly linked to well-educated and qualified registered early childhood educators (RECE). The compensation and support available to educators and staff must recognize the essential role that they play in children’s days, months, years and future outcomes. Fair and appropriate wages and working conditions cannot be based solely or primarily on parent fees as the existing market model of child care instantiates. Staffing expenses are, typically 80-90% of child care centres’ operating budgets, while centre revenues are generated primarily from parent fees. With parent fees already beyond the budget of the majority of Ontario families, the only viable solution to creating access to high quality, affordable child care programs is through significant government funds devoted to the recruitment and retention of qualified, RECE professionals.
Turnover is much lower in a stable system where wages and working conditions for educators and staff are prioritized. Research shows that good wages and working conditions contribute to job satisfaction and ultimately to better outcomes for children and families. Improving recruitment and retention is critical with the anticipated demand for RECEs in more child care and EarlyON spaces.
Executive Summary of Budget Action Recommendations
- Implement a workforce strategy to ensure all ECEC staff have professional pay and decent work;
- Implement a provincial wage scale with a $25/hr minimum and a benefit package, including paid sick and personal leave days, for registered early childhood educators. We advise that the Government should commit at least $375 million as a first step to establishing a province-wide wage scale for RECEs and program staff with entry level pay for RECEs at $25 per hour and commensurate compensation for other program staff;
- We support the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care in their call to allocate $600 million as a down payment on affordability; Begin operational funding of all licensed infant and toddler spaces in child care centres and establish a sliding fee scale in 2018-19; Expand the capital funding for the non-profit and public sectors to make a real difference in availability of child care spaces; Ensure all funding is indexed to inflation; Commit funding and resources to support system infrastructure including data and research;