Early childhood educators across Nova Scotia participated in a day of action to urge the government to honour its commitment to adding 9500 new child care spaces by March 2026.

“Universal child care is within our reach in Nova Scotia,” says Nan McFadgen, president of CUPE Nova Scotia, “but we aren’t going to get there if we don’t pay child care workers a living wage with pensions and benefits.”

Jennifer Chase, president of CUPE 3688, which represents child care workers in Bridgewater, says staff are struggling to get by. “Even employees at the top of the wage scale, with years of training, are earning less than the living wage,” says Chase. “It’s hard enough to recruit staff to cover the spaces we have now, but retaining them once they realize how difficult it is to get by is even harder.”

Margot Nickerson, president of CUPE 4745, which represents child care workers at seven centres in HRM, says they don’t have enough qualified people for the spaces they have now. “Child care is a revolving door,” she says, “Employees are leaving because they don’t earn enough, and without a pension plan, they have no future.”

CUPE has been pushing for a defined benefit pension plan for early childhood educators.

“An investment in the ECE workforce is an investment in Nova Scotia’s future,” says McFadgen. “Providing ECEs with fair compensation and retirement security will go a long way towards making sure universal childcare becomes a reality and not merely an aspiration.”

Join the call for more child care spaces across Canada by signing the Child Care Now open letter: https://childcarenow.ca/nov-2023-open-letter/