The Canadian Union of Public Employees submitted a report on behalf of Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and employees of child care centres in Nova Scotia, who have overwhelmingly expressed their desire for a defined benefit pension, not a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). CUPE’s report also highlighted several pension plans that would better serve ECEs and the workers of child care centres.

In May 2023, the government of Nova Scotia announced that it had begun the consultation process for creating retirement and benefit plans for all ECEs, who have been fighting for a pension for years, but left out other childcare centre staff. The government has contracted HUB International to conduct this consultation process and has so far failed to respond to CUPE’s request for more information concerning this contract. HUB sent out a survey to ECEs that was heavily biased towards producing a result that shows ECEs favour an RRSP rather than a pension plan.

A CUPE led survey, open to all ECEs and child care centre workers regardless of union affiliation for June and July, showed that they value a lifelong, guaranteed, and predictable income in their retirement. Over 81% of respondents stated they wanted a pension that would last their entire retirement, so they wouldn’t be forced back to work once their savings ran out. This fear of the unpredictability of an RRSP was further captured by the 93% of respondents who believe they will not be able to retire with financial security.

“ECEs and child care centre workers, both unionized and not, have spoken clearly: a RRSP is not enough. We aren’t paid enough for a savings plan to support us throughout retirement. We need a real pension, a defined benefit plan, and without one, it’s going to become impossible for people to stay in the sector, no matter how much they love what they do,” said CUPE 4745 President Margot Nickerson.

“We have a real opportunity here to not only retain the amazing ECEs and child care centre workers that we have, but to attract new people who want to work with the youngest members of our community. Offering RRSPs and ignoring the other employees of child care centres won’t cut it,” said CUPE 3688 President Jennifer Chase. “The government is always talking about recruitment and retention. This is how you do it.”