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Quebec Families Minister Mathieu Lacombe responds to reporters' questions at the beginning of a pre-session caucus meeting in Quebec City on Sept. 8.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The Quebec government says it will immediately hike the pay of daycare workers, despite ongoing contract negotiations that have led to strikes across the province.

Families Minister Mathieu Lacombe and Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel made the announcement today, as unionized daycare workers continued their strike.

Lacombe and LeBel are acknowledging that early childhood educators are underpaid and the low salaries are hampering efforts to retain and recruit workers.

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They say the government will immediately pay out the 12 per cent salary increase over three years it offered in July to qualified educators, while other daycare workers will receive slightly less.

The salary increase can reach up to 17 per cent through a lump-sum payment for qualified workers willing to increase their work week to 40 hours.

Salaries are at the centre of the contract dispute, as public sector daycare workers make $19 an hour at the beginning of their careers and top out at $25.18 per hour after 10 years.

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