Ontario’s Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and daycare workers could be looking at a cut in their wages this Spring. With revisions being made to the provincial budget this month, many fear that the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant will be dissolved. This grant was established in 2015 by the Ontario government to support childcare professionals and those working in a licensed child care setting.
The grant supports an increase of $2 per hour and 17.5% benefits. The average wage for childcare workers in Ontario is $15-$16 per hour and the grant would help close the wage gap between what is close to minimum wage versus livable wage.
“It is impossible to live in Toronto on minimum wage,” says local Downsview resident Maria Ojeda who works at a daycare in Richmond Hill. Her commute is longer than average and requires her to pay both TTC and YRT fares. She admits that this pay decrease could heavily impact her budget and the quality of her work-life. The $2 increase makes all the difference for many ECE workers in our community who work hard and deserve livable wages.
The Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for Registered ECEs and child care workers was not only introduced to increase income security but to help close the gender wage gap. Around 1.4% of all ECE workers are men. Meaning that mostly women will be affected by this potential wage cut both directly and indirectly as childcare fees could increase as a result.
Ontario’s childcare fees are already some of the highest in Canada. Scrapping the $2 wage grant could mean loss of jobs, underpaid and overqualified staff, and ultimately closures or fewer licensed child-care spaces. The OCBCC has launched a petition asking the Provincial government to continue the Wage Enhancement Grant, so far it has collected over 12,000 signatures.
As of now, the Ford government has not confirmed whether the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant will continue past March 31, 2019.