On December 19, 2022, the Ontario government announced it will support the creation of 53,000 licensed child care spaces by 2026 for children 0-5 years of age, including 16,296 spaces located in schools and 28,672 community centre-based or home-based spaces. The province has allocated $213 million of federal funds to one-time start-up grants to offset initial costs such as equipment and leasehold improvements but not for the purchase of land or buildings.
In response, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care cautioned that it will be impossible to increase the number of licensed spaces without addressing the child care workforce crisis. Policy Coordinator Carolyn Ferns noted that many Ontario child care programs cannot operate at capacity right now because of the child care recruitment and retention crisis, let alone plan for expansion,
The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario have called for a workforce strategy including:
- A salary scale starting at $25 per hour for all child care workers and $30 per hour for Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs);
- Benefits and pensions;
- Paid sick days;
- Professional development time;
- Paid programming time.
“We need decent work and pay. We need the federal and provincial governments to bring the same level of ambition and collaboration that they have brought to lowering child care fees to raising child care worker wages and developing a real workforce strategy” said Rachel Vickerson of the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario.
The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care also urges the province to increase transparency as the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care (CWELCC) plan gets underway in Ontario.
“We need regular public reporting, accountability mechanisms and transparent, public consultation going forward. How many child care spaces have already been created? And where are they located? How will programs be selected for expansion and how will the government be guaranteeing that we are expanding primarily in public and non-profit sectors as required under the CWELCC agreement? We need to ensure that every dollar going to create spaces for families is well-spent,” said Ferns.