More than 12,000 childhood educators in B.C. at licensed childcare facilities will see their hourly wages go up by $2 on Jan. 1.
The increase, which will cover most, but not all, of the 14,000-plus ECEs working in B.C., tops up earlier increases adding up to $4 per hour. It raises the median hourly wage for eligible ECEs to about $28.
ECEs who hold an infant toddler educator or special needs educator certification can apply for another pay bump of $2,000 per year, and ECEs who hold both certificates are eligible to receive $3,000 per year.
B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care Grace Lore and federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jenna Sudds announced the increases today at a joint news conference at Camosun College in Greater Victoria.
According to Statistics Canada, the current median hourly wage in B.C. is $27.50 as of May 31, 2023.
So eligible ECEs would see their wages rise just above the median for all professions under the pending increase, but still fall short of demands from the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and Early Childhood Educators of BC. Their joint report released in July 2023 called for hourly wages between at least $30 to $40 depending on qualifications, experience and employment.
Wages for ECEs tend to be even lower elsewhere in Canada. A 2020 report ECEBC says the latest recent national study (2012) pegged the median wage for child care program staff in Canada at $16.50 per hour or 69 per cent of average wages.
While governments across Canada have been upping wages, ECE wages “remain largely uncompetitive and qualified staff continue to leave for higher-paid positions elsewhere,” it reads.
These points ring through in the remarks from speakers.
For far too long, ECEs did not receive the recognition or compensation for the role that they play in the lives of children, families and communities, Lore said.
“We need to better recognize and compensate those incredible professionals,” Lore said, adding that ECEs are not immune to rising inflation and interest rates. “They need that recognition now,” she said.
These increases will also help attract and retain additional ECEs, which the province needs to help build early childhood education into a reliable “core service” for British Columbians, Lore added.
The provincial government anticipates more than 12,000 job openings for certified ECEs and ECE assistants in the coming decade.
Lore added that the province remains committed to supporting ECEs through grants and other ways, including the development of a wage grid leading to higher wages with testing starting this fall.
A new report from the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives states almost two of three B.C. children not yet attending Kindergarten live in so-called child-care deserts: postal codes with more than three children below school age for every full-time licensed child-care space. In British Columbia, 64 per cent of all younger children live in such areas with larger communities off better than smaller ones.