CUPE child care workers were busy this week, offering deputations at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday and holding a rally outside of Queen’s Park on Thursday to mark the fifth annual day of action for child care.

Both events highlighted the creativity and energy of early childhood educators and all who work in child care as attendees were encouraged to sign a colourful parachute demanding that child care workers are worth more.

The rally came just days after the provincial government announcement of a new wage floor for ECE and Assistant ECEs – one that falls woefully short of the recommendations by CUPE 2484 member group the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and leaves out cooks, cleaners, and admin workers altogether. Ontario is facing a workforce crisis in child care and will be short 8,500 ECEs by 2026. Centres are being forced to close and parents can’t find spaces due to a lack of staff; workers, meanwhile, are leaving the sector in droves, chased from jobs they love due to low pay.

“If things are going to change in this sector – and they have to – it will be because of us. They thought they could offer us $23 an hour and we’d be quiet,” yelled Jess Thomas, an ECE and CUPE 2484 Vice President. “They gave us $23 and we just got louder! We will not be divided. We will stand in solidarity because I know, as an ECE, that I cannot do my job without every other worker in my centre. When we fight, we win and we will not stop until we get the wages and benefits we deserve.”

Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow proudly scrawled their names on the parachute alongside MPPs Jill Andrews, Teresa Armstong, and Chris Glover, as well as city councillors Alejandra Bravo and Ausma Malik.