Program expanded to meet demand for early childhood educators

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Hundreds more bursaries will be offered to early childhood educators (ECEs), and those wanting to pursue a career in child care, as part of the Province’s commitment to create a universal child care system in B.C.

“Early childhood educators have an extraordinary opportunity to help children in their earliest stages of life,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. “Investing in child care professionals and students is a major step forward towards giving every child in British Columbia access to quality learning and child care so they can have the best start in life and have a fair chance to succeed.”

The extra bursaries build on the success of the ECE bursary program that approved approximately 1,100 applications for just over $2 million in the fall of 2018. A new $1.9-million investment through the Province’s Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the Government of Canada means more potential and current ECEs will benefit. This is in addition to the $10 million that was previously announced in September 2018 to expand the ECE Education Support Fund, which is administed by the Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia (ECEBC).

“We need to invest heavily in the early childhood education sector to keep up with the pent up demand for quality child care throughout the province,” said Katrina Chen, B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care. “Because the profession was neglected for so long, we have a lot of catching up to do. By working with ECEBC, we hope to give the kind of support these professionals have always needed and deserved, but have not received until now.”

This investment is part of government’s Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy, which launched in September 2018. As previously announced, this strategy is offering increased supports for the child care sector, including a $1 per hour wage enhancement for eligible ECEs and an enhanced bursary for ECE students.

“We know that 85% of brain development happens before the age of five, and that’s why early childhood education is so important,” said Katrine Conroy, B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development, who earned her ECE credentials from Selkirk college in 1979. “As a former ECE, I am always encouraging people to look at early childhood education as a career. It’s an amazing way to make a positive and long lasting impact. ECEs know how to create programs that inspire kids to dream big and nurture a lifelong love of learning.”

The Province is also investing $1.8 million to support a sector-led evaluation of its early care and learning strategy for the child care sector. The evaluation will be managed by ECEBC, and overseen by a committee of over 20 diverse early care and learning partners from around the province. The information gathered through this evaluation, including direct input from child care providers, will be used to support continuous improvement on workforce development strategies for the sector.

“Our government is committed to creating various pathways and opportunities for future early childhood educators to have rewarding careers,” said Melanie Mark, B.C.’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Investing in more ECE programs around the province is supporting students to gain the confidence and knowledge they need to succeed in this in-demand field. It’s vitally important that families can rely on high quality professionals to care for our future.”

The $1.8 million is provided through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement, as part of the Sector Labour Market Partnerships program with the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.

The ministers made the announcement at ECEBC’s national conference in front of more than 700 ECEs from across the country and from as far away as Brazil. The event provides an opportunity for educators to share current best practices and trends in early childhood education, and to learn more about how Childcare BC is supporting British Columbia’s educators through a comprehensive recruitment and retention strategy.

Under Childcare BC, the Province is investing more than $1.3 billion in child care over four years to lay the foundation for a universal child care system. Investments in child care professionals address the Province’s commitment to quality child care in B.C. and complement its goals of working with the sector to help make child care more affordable and accessible for B.C. families.

Investing in child care and early childhood education is a shared priority between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.


Emily Gawlick, executive director, Early Childhood Educators of BC —

“The bursary program has been incredibly popular — even above what we could have expected. It is thrilling to see the number of individuals who are able to go back to school. We are grateful for the government’s expanded support of this program, which will allow even more individuals to become educated early childhood educators.”

Quick Facts:

  • Founded in 1969, Early Childhood Educators of British Columbia is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
  • People wanting to nurture young children as ECEs, as well as current ECEs, can benefit from bursaries of up to $4,000 and $5,000, respectively.
  • Starting in May 2019, ECEBC will make it easier to access the bursary by removing the requirement for applicants to provide financial documents to support their application, and opening the Workforce Development Fund bursary to staff working in the 329 StrongStart facilities throughout B.C., who were not previously eligible to apply.
  • In January 2019, the ministry launched a $1 per hour wage enhancement for eligible ECEs. As of Feb. 27, 2019, it delivered more than $5 million to child care providers to help enhance ECE wages throughout B.C., with over 7,500 ECEs currently verified for payments. This initial lift will be followed by an additional $1 per hour lift in April 2020.
  • In 2018-19, the Province added 182 new student spaces in ECE training programs with a $1.2-million investment in communities like Vanderhoof, Vancouver, Castlegar, Victoria, Burns Lake, Prince George and many more throughout the province. Additional spaces will be announced in 2019-20.

Learn More:

The ECE bursary is currently available at 32 post-secondaries throughout B.C. For more information and to apply, visit:

For more information and to read the Early Care and Learning Recruitment and Retention Strategy, visit:

To learn more about child care in B.C., visit:

Childcare BC factsheet:

To read the release in Punjabi, visit:

To read the release in Tagalog, visit: