If the Ontario Liberal government is serious about a poverty reduction strategy, meeting legislated pay equity obligations for low-paid child care professionals to boost salaries should be a priority, say child care advocates on Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day.
January 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the Pay Equity law in Ontario. The Ontario government currently owes $78 million from 2006-2007 and will owe a further $467.9 million from 2008-2011 to over 100,000 women working in predominantly female workplaces such as child care centres that use the proxy comparison method for pay equity. Despite having a two-year college diploma, on average, child care educators, who are by-and-large women, make on average of $23,000 a year.
“Many child care workers and early childhood educators live in poverty because this government has failed to live up to its commitment to fund pay equity. If the McGuinty Liberals are serious about reducing poverty, meeting their legislated pay equity obligations is a good start. That would go a long way to addressing the low wages that keep child care educators and their children poor,” said Fred Hahn, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario secretary-treasurer.
“Regardless of their occupation or education, most Ontario women continue to be paid less than men because they do women’s work. Women on average still earn only 71% of what men earn—leaving a 29% pay gap. This is the best evidence that pay equity in Ontario is far from being achieved nor has it been maintained as the Act requires,” said Mary Cornish, lawyer and Chair of the Equal Pay Coalition.
October 24 is Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Appreciation Day in Ontario. Now in its sixth year, the day of appreciation recognizing the importance of the work of child care workers and early childhood educators was founded by CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC).
One hundred and eighty-four municipalities across the province, including Toronto City Council, proclaimed the day this year. Sponsors include CUPE, the United Steelworkers, OPSEU, CAW, the elementary and secondary teachers’ federations, the Ontario Federation of Labour, and NUPGE.
“Early childhood educators play a key role in child development and a key role in our economy. We will continue to work with our coalition partners to pressure all three levels of government to expand public, not-for-profit child care services and recognize these trained and qualified women workers as professionals,” said Elizabeth Ablett, Executive Director, OCBCC.
This year’s celebrations come just two weeks after provincial elections. The OCBCC and CUPE see this as an opportunity for the community and candidates to show their appreciation for the important role child care plays in the lives and well-being of all children.
For more information, please call:
Elizabeth Ablett, Executive Director, OCBCC 416-538-0628 Ext. 3 or cell: 647-291-7557
Irene Harris, Secretary-Treasurer, OFL 416-347-0454
Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer 416-540-3979
Mary Cornish, Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre & Cornish 416-964-5524