Early childcare centres struggling to maintain staff across Saskatchewan

Click to play video: 'Early childhood educators in Sask asking for help'
Early childhood educators in Sask asking for help
Early childhood education facilities are struggling to keep staff and are asking the government for help with funding – Oct 18, 2023

Early childhood educators (ECE) in Saskatchewan brought their staffing concerns to the legislature today, claiming they are losing employees every day.

Megan Schmidt runs the First Years Learning Centre in Regina. She said centres across the province are struggling to keep enough staff, while the waitlist for her facility is over 1,900 families long. She only has enough staff for 90 kids.

Schmidt and other directors of other ECE facilities have asked the Moe government to support them with additional funding.

“I’m missing eight educators from my centre today, and in order for us to not have to turn people away at the door, our employees, (and me and my co-director) are working over-time,” Schmidt said.

Nichole Kessel is the director of Whitewood Wiggles and Giggles day care.

“I lost staff to Dairy Queen and we have one right now that says she’s gonna work there part time. She can make the same amount there that she can make at our centre,” Kessel said.

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Kessel said this week she was unable to open her centre at all due to the lack of staff.

For many ECE facilities, paying employees more money out of their own pockets is difficult. Most operate as non-profits. Currently, many ECE employees, even with a college education and years of experience are making the same as industry newcomers: $14 an hour.

Saskatchewan director of education, Jeremy Cockrill, said the labour market across the country is in rough shape.

“Anecdotally, the spots are there. It’s just finding the bodies to be there and that is why we’ve made steps on wage enhancements and that’s why there’s incentives to get into this sector, I think the challenge is what we’re seeing in sectors across the economy,” he said.

He added there are more than 1,100 available child care spots that are tuition free across the province and the government plans to add 2,500 hundred more.

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