Text says Champions for Children | Champions des enfantsToday (October 16) is Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day in Ontario. Coming just days before the municipal election, educators and their supporters are calling on municipal and school board politicians to join them as “Champions for Children” by committing to three big ideas to build a better child care system in Ontario: affordable fees for families, decent work for educators and an expansion of public and non-profit programs.

The 18th annual appreciation day is officially proclaimed by nearly 30 municipalities around Ontario and celebrated by tens of thousands of educators in thousands of early learning and child care programs around the province. CUPE Ontario is proud to represent a huge number of Early Childhood Educators and child care workers, delivering quality care in our schools, in childcare centres, in community and social services agencies, all across Ontario.

“ECEs and early years staff are champions for children in our communities. It’s their skilled work as educators and their caring relationships with children and families that make all the difference in the lives of our youngest learners,” said Sheila Olan-MacLean, President of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), which organizes the annual celebration. “We all need to take this day to acknowledge that contribution.”

With municipal elections coming up on October 22, CUPE Ontario is calling on municipal and school board candidates to speak up for the importance of early learning and child care programs and staff in their communities.

“We’re so proud to have as members of our union these incredibly important, skilled and caring workers, who are delivering quality supports to families and communities every day,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario.  “On the eve of municipal and school board elections across the province, we need to show our support for their important work, by ensuring we elect Childcare Campions in every town and city, large and small.”

“In Ontario, municipalities and regions have a big role in child care – planning, administering, funding and sometimes operating early learning and child care programs. Local councillors can be champions for child care programs: pushing for more municipal funds and advocating to senior levels of government for more investment in child care. Now more than ever, we need to elect champions for child care to all municipal and regional councils!” said Carolyn Ferns, the OCBCC’s Policy Coordinator.

Coalition members are asking local candidates to support the child care community’s Three Big Ideas: low fees or no fees for families, decent work and pay for educators, and expanding in non-profit and public child care.

“We need municipal champions who will work towards a publicly funded early learning and child care system that delivers for children, for families and for the dedicated educators that make those programs come to life,” said Ferns.

“CUPE Ontario will keep working in coalition with others, with parents and families and our communities, to push for a public, affordable, high-quality childcare system that recognized the skills of workers,” said Hahn. “This is key to our collective future – the people of Ontario deserve nothing less.”