Early findings from a report say 45 per cent of B.C. early childhood educator companies are losing more staff than they can hire.
The findings were released from an Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC) report, entitled Evaluation of the Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy in British Columbia, which shows a significant issue in hiring and retaining staff within the industry.
According to the report, workers have been leaving the industry due to low pay, lack of benefits and poor working conditions.
“I would love to be considered the same as other teachers, like kindergarten or Grade 1 teachers,” quoted an unnamed childhood educator in the report.
“I would love for them to think of us as teachers because we are teachers. We’re just teachers to children under the age of 5.”
The results of the serious lack of staff mean that around 27 per cent of early childhood educator companies reported they had to refuse to register children.
“The findings in this report reveal that low wages and a lack of benefits remain the main reasons qualified professionals are leaving this career,” said Emily Mlieczko, Early Childhood Educators of BC’s executive director.
“With most British Columbians viewing early childhood education as an essential service, a renewed effort is needed to ensure regional disparities are addressed and a provincial system of child care is built.”
The disparities mentioned were highlighted in the report.
“The average early care and learning professional is still paid $7 an hour less than similarly educated adults in B.C.,” Early Childhood Educators of BC staff said.
Hourly wages have been supplemented by the province’s Early Childhood Educator Wage Enhancement program. The report found that 90 per cent of early childhood educators received wage enhancements in 2021.
In 2018, B.C. launched the Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy, to develop a continuous system for the sector to provide feedback and information to the government and employers.
It includes results and lessons learned over the past three years of evaluation activity including employer and workforce surveys fielded in the fall of 2021.
The report will also include plans for the extension of the evaluation to cover 2022 and 2023.
More than 75 per cent of British Columbians consider child care an essential service, according to the report.