Increasing the minimum wage for early childhood educators would acknowledge and support the work that the workers do in child care programs, but further enhancements are required in order to attract and retain staff, say those .
Last month, the province unveiled a bump up in the minimum wage of registered ECEs in most licensed child-care centres to $23.86 an hour beginning in 2024.
“These positions [require] a special person, [and] we know the early years are the most important years in a child's development. Staff care about the children and they deserve a decent wage,” said Brass Bell Family Resource Centre executive director Colleen Kjellman. “Working with children is imperative and contributes to their overall development.”
The centre provides services across the region with EarlyON Child and Family Centres in the communities of Dorion, Red Rock, Nipigon, Schreiber, Terrace Bay and Manitouwadge, along with a standalone Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program in Marathon and a licensed child care centre in Nipigon.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce has stated that this measure will create wage parity with early childhood educators working in kindergarten classrooms.
Originally the planned increase was to $20 an hour in a bid to ease shortages that advocates say are hampering growth of the national $10-a-day program.
In Greenstone, early childhood educators fall under the Superior-Greenstone District School Board, which means their salaries are dictated through a collective bargaining agreement with the municipality.
Greenstone Mayor Jamie McPherson stated that a new deal was inked this year and lasts for three years.
“There is a provincial shortage of qualified early childhood educators, and we are not one of the first places people will go because of our geography,” McPherson said. “So [this is a good step] to recognize the valuable service of the ECES — we need more of them trained and more than willing to come to the north.”
With files from Austin Campbell