The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently published an analysis report titled Not Done Yet: $10-a-day childcare requires addressing Canada's child care deserts which reports "Saskatchewan has the highest proportion of children living in child care deserts by far: 85,500 younger children live in a postal code where there are more than three children per licensed space. This means that many more children are living in child care deserts in Saskatchewan than Quebec, even though Quebec has four times the child population".
The current Saskatchewan government has promised to create an additional 28,000 spaces in addition to the 23,000 funded spaces by March 2026. Additional ECE training programs have been implemented and recently, the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association has been tasked with an ECE recruitment project designed to attract more people to the sector. At minimum, Saskatchewan will need at least 2800 new ECE's entering the field to properly staff these new spaces. Additional staffing such as administration and nutrition specialists will only increase the number of new recruits needed. New recruits want answers as to what their working conditions will be like before they enter the field, not after - the wage grid for ECE's needs to be released sooner rather than later in order to retain current employees and bring in new ones.
In order to build spaces, approved operators are receiving grants of $10000.00 per space to assist in construction or renovation costs. However, these costs are astronomical and the grants do not cover even 50% of the estimates being provided to some of our members who are looking to expand. Until all levels of government work with each other to provide feasible expansion opportunities to operators looking to open these spaces, the lofty goal of doubling the number of licenced child care spaces within the next three years will be challenging, if not impossible. Operators can not be expected to fundraise on top of their full time jobs in order to bring the promise of new spaces into the realm of reality.
The Saskatchewan Federation of Early Learning will continue to work with our members in providing support and in raising awareness of the challenges our members and the sector is facing while we wait for updated funding agreements from the province. To read more from the CCPA's report please head to their website.
SFEL Executive - Member at Large
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