TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 25, 2016) - To mark Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day on October 26, a new report and thousands of names on petitions shine a light on the challenges faced by Ontario's early childhood workforce and their growing collective call for decent work.
The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) and its partners and allies are calling on the government to ensure that their recent Throne Speech commitment of 100,000 child care spaces helps to build a real system of child care in the province. A petition, being presented in the Ontario legislature today, calls for a publicly funded early learning and child care system that "provides both adequate wages and affordable fees."
"We welcome the Ontario government's renewed focus on child care, but to make the most of it we need an approach that develops a real child care system. Not just a space expansion, but affordability for parents and decent work for educators," said Carolyn Ferns of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.
The Ontario government's promise of 100,000 child care spaces will require an estimated 20,000 early childhood educators. But educators are warning the government that without ensuring equal pay and decent work, the sector will continue to experience high rates of staff turnover as trained educators leave the sector due to low pay and burnout.
A new report from the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) highlights the issues faced by the workforce. The paper - "I'm more than 'just' an ECE" - reports on consultations with educators and child care staff across Ontario.
"The government's planned space expansion can only be achieved through the work of educators and child care workers. The needs of the workforce can no longer be ignored," said Lyndsay Macdonald, Coordinator of the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario.
Bernice Cipparrone McLeod of the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development at OISE/UT reiterated the importance of a stable, qualified and well compensated workforce to high quality early learning and care.
"Research shows that it's the educators that build quality in early learning and care. They are the key to quality programs and must be supported," said Cipparrone McLeod.
"The Wynne government committed to closing the gender wage gap. The government's own gender wage gap report found child care to be the area of greatest concern - not only from the perspective of parents but also from early childhood educators. ECEs provide a vital service in our communities and must be compensated accordingly," added Ferns.