Won’t somebody please think of the children?

Ask any working parent across the country what their most significant source of stress is, and most will say the same thing—affordable childcare. The fed and provinces have agreed to a $30 billion, five-year deal to provide $10 per day childcare, but there's one problem: There doesn’t seem to be enough people to look after the youngsters. 

Driving the news: Childcare advocates say the industry is plagued by staffing shortages, driven by poor wages and benefits that make it challenging to attract and retain qualified early childhood educators (ECE), leading to longer waitlists for parents. 

  • A BC study found that 45% of daycare providers are at a staffing deficit, losing employees faster than they can hire. 

  • The Toronto branch of the YMCA can accommodate 35,000 kids if fully staffed but can only offer 16,000 spots filled right now. 

Why it's happening: ECEs are undervalued in the licensed childcare space—they start work early, finish late, and are responsible for enriching the lives of tiny humans while dodging projectile vomit and trying to avoid stepping on Lego. 

  • It takes two years to obtain the credential, and the payscale lags behind other careers that require a college diploma. 

  • Advocates say $30 an hour is in line with the compensation ECEs should be earning, but the feds left comp to the provinces to decide—so far, only Yukon has hit the $30 mark.

  • In Ontario, many ECEs leave the childcare sector after three years, often moving into the public school system where they find better wages and benefits, like paid sick days and a pension.

Why it matters: $10 a day childcare would save Canadian parents thousands of dollars on childcare costs a year, but if the centres can't find staff to supervise the kids, affordable childcare will be more a dream than reality.