Increased child-care subsidy will improve quality: Kirby
Education Minister Dale Kirby said a $1.3-million hike to the wage subsidy for early childhood educators (ECEs) won’t make daycare any cheaper for parents, but it will improve the quality of the services.
“I want to thank early childhood educators across the province for their dedication, their commitment,” Kirby said. “I believe this announcement today really demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that they’re remunerated in a way that more closely reflects the training, the qualifications and what they contribute to our children’s development.”
Kirby made the announcement in Conception Bay South Thursday afternoon at the Pitter Patter Daycare. After speaking to the media, Kirby went to read “Chicken, Pig, Cow” to the children at the daycare.
He said Thursday’s announcement won’t specifically do anything to make child care more affordable. But Kirby is fond of talking about the metaphorical “three-legged stool” of child care — quality, availability and affordability.
“I think this gets more towards quality recruitment and retention of ECEs,” Kirby said.
“We know that their wages do not reflect the work that they do. We want to improve their working conditions.”
Kirby said there’s no mechanism in the government’s program that would prevent employers from paying early childhood educators less, as the government subsidy increases, but he said that hasn’t been a problem so far.
The extra money that the government will pay qualified early childhood educators, Kirby said, will more adequately reflect their qualifications, and will assist daycares with recruitment and retention of staff.
Lisa Baker, owner-operator of Pitter Patter Daycare, applauded the move, although she said they’re not actually having too much trouble recruiting early childhood educators as it is.
But she said the government supplementing workers’ pay sends a valuable message.
“It definitely will encourage more people to choose to be an early childhood educator,” Baker said.
“It gives them more validity for what they’re doing, as well.”
The $1.3 million is a 20 per cent increase in funding over last year, going from $6.5 million to $7.8 million.
“I think this gets more towards quality recruitment and retention of ECE … We know that their wages do not reflect the work that they do. We want to improve their working conditions.”
Education Minister Dale Kirby
Education Minister Dale Kirby reads to children at the Pitter Patter Daycare in Conception Bay South on Thursday. Kirby announced the government is increasing funding to subsidize early childhood educators.