stylized map superimposed over silhouettes of an educator with a line of children walking

Immigration Reforms Could Block Expansion of the ECE Workforce

The expansion of child care facilitated by the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreements has brought about challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified early childhood educators, writes Zeenat Janmohamed in the most recent Atkinson Foundation Newsletter. In the article, Janmohamed points out that while some regions have implemented strategies such as fair wages and pension programs to address these challenges, others are turning to international students to fill the gap in ECE programs due to declining domestic enrollment. International students contribute to workforce diversity and offer global perspectives and there’s a growing recognition that they deserve workplace protections, higher wages, and improved benefits for long-term sustainability in the ECE field. Provinces like Nova Scotia and Quebec have established pathways for international students interested in early childhood careers, but concerns arise regarding recent federal announcements to reduce study permits, potentially exacerbating the shortage of ECEs. Colleges and universities, particularly in Ontario, heavily reliant on international student enrollment, face the risk of ECE program cancellations and staff layoffs, further straining the ECE workforce. Amidst these challenges, Janmohamed calls  for consultation and exemptions to support labor market shortages in sectors like early childhood education.

Zeenat Janmohamed is a member of B2C2’s Advisory Board and is the Executive Director and Senior Policy Analyst at the Atkinson Centre.

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