Ontario boosting ECE wages to $23.86 an hour next year in bid to ease shortage


TORONTO - Ontario is boosting the minimum wage of early childhood educators in most licensed child-care centres to $23.86 an hour next year, up from a planned increase to $20, in a bid to ease shortages of those workers.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce released his child-care workforce strategy today, after ministry officials warned the province could be short 8,500 ECEs by the time Ontario hopes to have created 86,000 new spaces under the national $10-a-day child-care system.

Advocates have said the ECE shortages are hampering the growth of the sector and have variously called for wage floors of $25, $30, or up to $40 an hour.

Part of the agreement Ontario signed with the federal government in joining the national 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.

The workforce strategy also includes increasing the number of ECEs who can qualify for the wage enhancements, funding to establish a dedicated professional development day, and doubling funding for a program that helps non-ECE child-care staff get an ECE diploma.