City Hall/Queen’s Park Reporter
Graduates of Humber College’s Early Childhood Education program can look forward to a pay raise once they graduate.
The provincial government announced a $1 per hour wage increase for licensed child care providers last week.
The raise goes into effect later this year, with another $1 increase in 2016.
A statement from Premier Wynne’s office says the raise is intended to bridge the pay gap between daycare and kindergarten workers.
“Ontario’s investment to increase wages also supports efforts to recruit and retain highly qualified and talented educators, and supports parents in accessing safe and reliable care for their children,” the release reads.
The average ECE worker makes $22,399 per year, with 82 per cent employed in registered daycares, according to statistics from Services Canada.
The average full-time worker works 40 hours per week and is paid for 52 weeks each year, suggesting a $2,080 pay increase, a modest but significant raise.
The average ECE worker will make $26,500 in two years .
Sally Kotsopoulos, who teaches ECE at Humber, is pleased the premier kept her election promise but sees the raise as a temporary solution. There is still much disparity in wages.
“Any effort on the government’s part to diminish the gap is very welcome,” she said. “It’s a stop-gap measure though.”
Kotsopoulos said the long-term solution is to establish a federally subsidized daycare program, similar to what Paul Martin proposed in his 2005 budget. A similar proposal is currently touted by federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.
“Money is not the only issue here. It needs to be a regulated, thoughtful process (on how the system can be improved),” she said.
Kotsopolous said only 15 per cent of children in Ontario are in daycares, and that is due to lack of space.
Garfield Dunlop, the PC party’s education critic, said Ontarians cannot afford to raise daycare workers’ wages.
Dunlop criticizes “the premier’s decision to butter everybody up,” offering money for services she knows the province cannot afford.
“It might be good for some people for a couple of bucks an hour” but it is not good for the province’s overall finances, he said.
Instead of giving more money to licensed daycare workers, Dunlop said the province should open up licensing to more private daycares.
Xiaolei (Mason) Mao is a Chinese exchange student studying ECE at Humber. He suggests Ontario’s ECE system, for all its flaws, is still more streamlined than in his native land.
“ECE in China is kind of like a baby now,” he said. “It needs people to develop it.”