Williams Lake’s push for qualified early childhood educators (ECE) to be paid better will be heard at the provincial government level.
Last year the city submitted a resolution to the North Central Local Government Association which actually proposed a $25 an hour pay rate.
While the resolution has now been endorsed by the Union of B.C. Municipalities and will be forwarded to the appropriate government departments, it does not include a wage.
Instead the resolution calls for a fair wage for qualified ECEs that is more reflective of the cost of living as well as the financial and time investments required to take the training.
Mayor Walt Cobb said the city is pleased the concern will be heard at a provincial level.
“This is not a Williams Lake-specific problem, but council has taken the approach that we cannot afford to wait for the government to figure this out and understand the issues facing rural communities,” Cobb said. “We support local training and fair wages, and we continue to work toward providing opportunities in our community.”
Beth Veenkamp, the city’s economic development officer, said the city continues to hear about the lack of qualified labour in the community that is affecting many businesses.
“Access to childcare is essential for a vibrant workforce – this is a labour market problem that needs to be corrected,” she said.
During the regular council meeting Tuesday, March 9, Veenkamp told council she was disappointed with the amendment to the resolution, yet hopes it will show the idea is for a wage that creates an incentive to go into the field.
“I think we have done a good job in Williams Lake of opening up the discussion with the province now and we have a lot to be proud of in this regard.”
Coun. Jason Ryll said he would like to see the term ‘market-comparable to other support services,’ rather than a ‘cost of living wage,’ used to describe the necessary wage.
Coun. Craig Smith, however, said leaving out a specific wage makes it better because it would date the resolution and limit it.
“I do think the term should be different than the ‘cost of living’ because that is $15 an hour,” Smith said.
Coun. Scott Nelson’s recommendation that city council write a letter to UBCM asking why they removed the $25 an hour figure was approved unanimously by council.