Following today’s final recommendations from the province’s gender wage gap strategy consultation, the Ontario division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) called on the Wynne government to set clear timelines for implementing an affordable, publicly funded child care system.
In the report released this morning, the consultation committee made child care their very first recommendation, calling on the government to develop immediately an early child care system that is “high-quality, affordable, accessible, publicly funded and geared to income, with sufficient spaces to meet the needs of Ontario families.”
The recommendation mirrors the demands of the CUPE members who advocated at the committee’s public consultations for a publicly funded and accessible child care system. They spoke from their vantage point as early childhood educators and as workers who rely on child care programs.
“The gender pay gap will never be closed without access to affordable, high-quality child care,” said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair of CUPE Ontario’s Social Services Committee. “If Kathleen Wynne’s government is serious about the pay gap, we need to see a real plan with base funding, expansion of spaces and support for the child care workforce.”
Early childhood educators – 97 per cent of whom are women – are paid, on average, $21,748 per year nationally. Their salary can be compared with that of cable television service technicians, 96 per cent of whom are men, who are paid, on average, $47,570 per year.
Wages for child care workers are squeezed between already expensive parent fees and limited government funding. “The only way to ensure access and affordable fees for parents and decent wages for child care workers is through a public child care system,” said Poole-Cotnam.
Other recommendations from the report also addressed the need to “alleviate current stresses and address the gaps in the current child care system,” an issue that was also tackled in the public consultations by CUPE participants who called for public funding and support that provides for both adequate wages and affordable fees.
CUPE members participated in town hall consultations across the province, making the case for government funding allocated to pay equity and better enforcement of pay equity obligations. For example, a report from the developmental services sector stated that almost 60 per cent of organizations with pay equity obligations reported that they did not meet their legal requirements.
“The provincial government is complicit in this human rights failure given that funding to developmental services agencies has not increased in five years,” concluded Poole-Cotnam.
CUPE members also advocated for funding increases to frontline social services agencies and a better floor of labour and employment legislation to deal with precarious work. Sixty-eight per cent of CUPE members are women, many of whom work in female-dominated sectors.
For more information, please contact:
Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam
Chair, Social Service Workers Coordinating Committee