Today, the Government Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan announced an investment of $9.6 million to fund a wage increase of up to $3 per hour for qualified Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) in the province.
“Our government is thankful for the hard work Saskatchewan ECEs do every day,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said. “This investment will recognize that hard work while creating an incentive for people to consider becoming ECEs themselves.”
The investment is part of over $17 million of one-time federal funding to support the early childhood workforce that is part of the recently announced extension of the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.
“Child care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Supporting the valuable work of early childhood educators is key to the success of a high-quality child care system,” Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould said. “By building a stronger workforce, more children in Saskatchewan will have access to high-quality early learning and have the best possible start in life.”
The wage increase is retroactive to July 1, 2021, and it is anticipated that centres will be able to access the funds for distribution by December 2021. The increased amount will vary according to ECE certification levels with up to $1 per hour, $2 per hour and $3 per hour for ECE certification level I, II and III respectively. The Ministry of Education is in the process of collecting information from licensed child care facilities to calculate the wage increases.
“A wage increase for ECEs is an exciting step for the Early Learning and Child Care sector in Saskatchewan,” Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association Executive Director Georgia Lavallee said. “This will help support the recognition of ECEs and the significant impact they have on a child's development and future. High-quality Early Learning and Child Care is dependent on ECEs and higher wages will aid in retaining educated ECEs in our province.”
This one-time increase will provide a baseline for the Government of Saskatchewan to work toward developing a wage grid for ECEs across the province. The government is committed to developing the wage grid and making meaningful progress toward its implementation by the end of 2022-23.
The remaining amount from the $17 million investment will go toward funding accelerated ECE certificate or diploma training, supporting high school students and adult learners to enter a career in early childhood education, providing bursaries for individuals enrolled in full-time, in-person ECE certificate or diploma programs, and supporting ECEs who participate in continuous professional learning and skills enhancement. More details on this funding will be provided at a later date.
The Government of Canada is making a transformative investment to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system in partnership with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners. This includes a historic federal investment of close to $1.1 billion in child care in Saskatchewan. The goal is to bring fees for regulated child care down to $10 per day on average within the next five years. By the end of 2022, the Government of Canada is aiming to reduce average fees for regulated early learning and child care by 50 per cent to make it more affordable for families.