Transforming Nova Scotia’s Child-Care System
NOTE: The following is an op-ed from Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.
Now more than ever, Nova Scotians need a child-care system that delivers. Children deserve care that gives them the best start in life. Parents deserve care that is affordable regardless of financial means and available where they live and when they work. Nova Scotia deserves childcare that supports our workplaces and our economy. Early childhood educators (ECEs) and operators who nurture and care for our children deserve sustainable funding and support.
To meet these needs, our government is transforming child care in Nova Scotia:
We have reduced fees to make life more affordable, with a 25 per cent reduction already in place and a further reduction on its way. By the end of this year, families will pay 50 per cent less on average than they did at the start of the year.
We have announced and delivered on the opening of spaces across the province, with 1,500 new child-care spaces coming this winter and new spaces already open in communities like Oxford, Hubbards, Windsor, Lower Sackville, and Lower Onslow, Colchester County.
For ECEs who care for and nurture our children in licensed, funded centres
We are investing $100 million a year to deliver wage increases of between 14 per cent and 43 per cent, retroactive to July 4, 2022, providing a wage scale that recognizes years of service and education. Health and retirement benefits are coming next year. And, for the first time ever, ECEs will receive regular wage increases like those in the public sector.
For operators in the private and non-profit sectors
We are paying for ECE wage increases for a sector whose wages make up 70 to 93 per cent of operational costs. We are paying for reduced parent fees. We are modernizing our reporting system so centres can get reimbursed faster for the hours worked by their staff. And we have additional funds set aside for any operator who is struggling.
Now more than ever, Nova Scotians are feeling the impact of inflationary pressures and workforce availability. Every sector, including child care, is challenged with these issues. But the investment and attention our government is giving child care is an opportunity to address these challenges and build a resilient system.
We are building a true system. We know that transforming child care is no simple task, and we do not expect to fix decades of neglect through any one announcement. But with each step, we’re making bold progress in the right direction.
Our government wants more child care in Nova Scotia, not less. It will take time and collaboration, but I am confident that working together, we will continue to make smart investments and decisions as we build a child-care system for all Nova Scotians.
The future is very bright for Nova Scotia’s children and families. My commitment is that we will work together to make this a reality.