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City of Windsor campaign aims to alleviate early child educator shortage logo 2023-03-17 CBC/Radio-Canada

The City of Windsor is behind an effort to see more early childhood educators (ECEs) hired in this region amid a shortage of workers.

The city held the press conference on Thursday morning at the Connections Early Years Family Centre to promote its recruitment campaign. Mayor Drew Dilkens, commissioner of Human Health Services Andrew Daher and manager of children's services Dawn Bosco were present.

According to Dilkens, 1,540 new childcare spots will be coming to the city over the next five years, which accentuates the need for more ECEs.

The initiative is called Windsor Essex Registered Early Childhood Educators (WERECE) recruitment and retention campaign and it's a strategy to "bring awareness of the important role that [ECEs] play in the life of a child and our community," read a press release from the city.

"I can assure you that all levels of government agree and recognize that the quality early learning and childcare systems play a pivotal role in promoting and development of the well-being of young children," said Daher.

The WERECE campaign was funded by the Ministry of Education through the Canada-Ontario Early Childhood Workforce Agreement, which aims to "sustain, enhance, grow and attract staff into the child care and early years' workforce," according to the release.

Ontario-wide shortage of ECEs affecting parents

The announcement came as childcare centres across Ontario are facing ECE shortages.

Bosco said with the launch of the national Early Learning and Child Care Agreements, the demand has grown.

"Children and families are attending more childcare and therefore needing more childcare staff, so in order to address the need and all of these new little ones coming into childcare, we need more ECEs, which is why we're doing this push."

Agencies that run daycares have said they're so short of ECEs they doubt the national program of $10-a-day child care — which the federal government promised — can be delivered to all kids.

"It's the worst workforce crisis child care has ever faced," Carolyn Ferns, policy coordinator at the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, told CBC News.

The launch of the WERECE campaign came after childcare centres across Ontario are facing ECE shortages. © TJ Dhir/CBC The launch of the WERECE campaign came after childcare centres across Ontario are facing ECE shortages.

"We've had recruitment and retention issues in child care for years before the pandemic, but it's just gotten so much worse."

Ellie Gauvin, a Windsor parent, has been experiencing the shortage first-hand.

"Apparently I should have had him on a waitlist before he was even born," said Gauvin.

"Some waitlists are as long as a year and a half to two years from what I'm understanding, and my daycare particularly is very short-staffed."

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