Ontario to raise wages for early childhood educators to ease labour shortages

Julia Hornstein
Published: November 24, 2023

Ontario is boosting the minimum wage of early childhood educators (ECE) in most licensed child-care centres to $23.86 an hour next year, up from the planned increase of $20. The province hopes the increase will ease shortages that are hindering the growth of the national $10-a-day program.

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Advocates have said that the ECE shortages have hampered with the growth of the sector, with many centres forced to close rooms because of a lack of staff.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce released his childcare workforce strategy in November, which included the wage floor increase that the government says will make Ontario’s starting wages for ECEs go from one of the lowest in Canada to one of the highest.

Ministry officials have warned that Ontario could be short 8,500 ECEs by 2026, which is the year that the province hopes to have created 86,000 new spaces under the national child-care system.

Part of the agreement Ontario signed with the federal government in joining the national $10-a-day program was setting a wage floor of $18 an hour in 2022 and increasing it by $1 a year up to $25.

Under Lecce's new strategy, the floor will rise to $23.86 an hour next year and continue to rise by $1 an hour each year, up to $25.86 in 2026.

$10-a-day national strategy in Canada

The Canadian government believes that all families in Canada should have access to high-quality, affordable and flexible early learning and childcare no matter where they live.

To make childcare more affordable, childcare centre fees have already been cut by 50% for families with children in 92% of licensed centres and home daycares, and they are set to be lowered even further to an average of 10$ a day by 2026.

These targets are applicable everywhere outside of Quebec, where an affordable, well-established early learning and childcare system already exists. Nearly half of all provinces and territories already have a 10-a-day on average (or less) regulated childcare.

Not only is affordable and high-quality childcare important for the future of children, but it promotes greater gender equality by allowing more parents, particularly mothers, to participate in the workforce and achieve greater economic security.

Taken together, high-quality childcare will grow Canada’s economy, allow more women to enter the workforce and help give every child in Canada the best start in life.

Early childhood educator jobs in Canada

The Canadian government website provides an analysis of key labour market indicators such as job vacancies and employment growth in order to project job openings and job seekers over the 2022-2031 period for most types of employment in Canada.

In 2021, 229,100 people were employed as ECE or childcare workers in Canada. According to their projections, over the 2022 to 2031 period, new job openings are expected to total 108,800, while 91,500 new job seekers are expected to be available to fill them.

Regarding labour supply, school leavers are expected toa account for about three quarters of job seekers, mostly college graduates. Immigration will account for the remaining quarter of job seekers, as this occupational group is very popular among newcomers, especially among women.

In Ontario specifically, the government website states that the employment outlook will be good for ECEs for the 2022-2024 period. The following factors contribute to this outlook:

  • Employment growth will lead to several new positions
  • A moderate number of positions will become available due to retirements
  • There are a moderate number of unemployed workers with recent experience in this occupation

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