by Stephanie Seaver
A North Dundas child care centre is pleased to hear the announcement of a $30 billion federal investment into day cares with a promise to create new spaces and reduce fees. It means a great deal to local daycare providers who are now juggling to keep spaces affordable.
According to Cheryl Firlotte, Executive Director of Happy Face Nursery School Child Care (locations in North Dundas): “We are very excited that the federal budget made this huge commitment to work toward a Canada-wide system of quality early learning and child care that is affordable and accessible to all families. We hope that the Ontario government will work cooperatively with the Federal government to build a system that will benefit Ontario children and their families.”
Waiting lists at most daycare centres have been known to already have extensively long waiting lists. COVID-19 has had an even more negative impact on waiting lists. Cheryl has stated that COVID-19 has been one of the reasons most families have not returned to care. With all the new COVID protocols that daycares have been mandated to put into place, daycares are required to have more staff with smaller group sizes. Happy Face currently has fifty-two children waiting for care. Although part of the new budget discussed creating more spaces, details of how that will work and how the funding will be allocated have not been released yet.
According to Living in Canada, the average wage for childcare workers ranges from $14 per hour to $17 per hour. They are required to take a two-year course and have an Early Childhood Education Ontario College Diploma which qualifies them as an educator of children in a variety of early learning settings.
It is apparent that Early Childhood Educators working in daycares are underpaid. Cheryl hopes that the new funding will assist in raising wages for these hard workers.
“Happy Face makes educator compensation a priority, but since we rely heavily on parent tuition fees, we are not able to pay our staff as well as we would like. Child care is a major expense for many families, so we keep our tuition rates as low as possible while continuing to provide quality programs. The federal budget recognizes that Early Childhood Educators are at the heart of the child care system, so we are hopeful that wage increases will be included in the new funding formulas,” says Cheryl.