Nova Scotia has announced that $1.45 million is being committed to strengthening the early childhood education program at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC).
It’s money that will see 135 new seats created over the next three years, increasing the number of trained graduates.
But it won’t be an overnight fix.
“We’re working very diligently to make sure we meet the short-term needs, but more importantly today’s announcement is about meeting the long-term needs in the province,” said Zach Churchill, Nova Scotia’s minister of education and early childhood.
The province says its hired 320 pre-primary staff and are aware of 40 remaining vacancies.
Churchill say to meet the immediate need, they need to explore other options.
“There are enough trained early childhood educators in the system, but we do need to recruit those folks back to the sector because until now, the last couple years, it hasn’t been necessarily the best economic choice that people can make because wages were low before 2016 and there weren’t many job opportunities in the province,” he said.
The government has undertaken another measure, investing $800,000 in temporary tuition support for private institution students that is designed to help people afford training.
Learn, Play, Grow is one child care centre that is benefiting from student-workers.
“They see the importance of training and we support them in that,” said Sonia Hage-Cameron, the centre’s owner, “and the fact that they can train and work at the same time is allowing us to keep the staff that we have.”
WATCH: Pre-primary program in Nova Scotia expands
The province says they’re also shifting the educator-to-student ratios in the province — allowing one staff member to support 12 children instead of eight.
It’s a decision welcomed by Hage-Cameron.
“Allowing us to increase those numbers does help us so that we can provide the care that the families are looking for,” she said, “because we have seen an increase in a demand for care for that age group pre-primary.”
Eighty of the new NSCC seats will be rolled out this year, with the remaining 55 scheduled for the 2019-20 school year.