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Advocates demand Alberta address shortage of early childhood educators

Click to play video: 'Advocates demand Alberta address early childhood educator shortage'
Advocates demand Alberta address early childhood educator shortage
WATCH: It's been a year since Alberta and the federal government signed a deal for $10-a-day child care but demand for a spot still outweighs the number of available spaces. On the National Day of Action for Child Care, advocates are urging the Alberta government to increase wages for early childhood educators. Kendra Slugoski reports. – Nov 30, 2022

On the National Day of Action for Child Care, advocates are urging the government of Alberta to increase wages for early childhood educators.

A Level 1 early childhood education (ECE) worker — who is required to complete a short online course to be certified — is, on average, paid just above minimum wage. So, ECEs and child care directors are asking the province to boost wages and create a competitive salary grid to help keep staff in Alberta.

Child care groups say during the pandemic, about Alberta 4,000 ECEs left the industry and never came back. Child Care Now Alberta estimates there are about 16,000 ECEs working in Alberta right now.

The groups believe better compensation would mean better quality of care as well as more access for families.

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“We need a plan for training more ECEs that works for people who are in urban as well as rural centres,” said Susan Cake with Child Care Now Alberta.

“There are some quick fixes the government can do as well. We have a wage top-up program. It has not been increased since it was implemented in 2018. They could very quickly increase those wage top ups to keep pace with inflation at least.”

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More than a year ago, Alberta and the federal government signed a deal for $10-a-day child care, which reduced costs for families as well as increased the number of licensed programs. While that has helped many parents with affordability and access, the situation is still dire for workers.

Demand for affordable licensed child care spots is still outweighing supply.

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Alberta inks affordable child care deal with Ottawa

“People who work as ECEs often cannot afford childcare for their own children, so it’s hard to have a family and stay in the sector. And it’s hard to stay in rural Alberta as well,” Cake said.

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Members of the Child Care Now group are asking provinces and Ottawa to take steps to make child care higher quality and more accessible.

 

Click to play video: 'Shortage of Early Childhood Educators making noticeable impact in Lethbridge'
Shortage of Early Childhood Educators making noticeable impact in Lethbridge

 

The group says one big issue is a shortage of early childhood educators and other child care staff.

Advocates are asking the federal and provincial governments to raise wages and improve working conditions in child care, ensure high-quality child care programs with qualified educators and decent working conditions, and make access to this care universal like public education or health care.

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