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Several hundred child care workers and early childhood educators, along with CUPE National President Paul Moist, marked the 5th annual Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day with a gala celebration last night.

“I am immensely proud of our child care workers here in Ottawa and across Canada, and I am always impressed with the dedication they have to their profession,” said Moist.

In Ontario, more than 140 municipalities proclaimed Oct. 26 as an appreciation day for child care workers. The Ottawa gala was held at the Nepean Sportsplex and spearheaded by Shellie Bird, education officer at CUPE 2204 and president of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. The crowd acknowledged Bird with a standing ovation as she was given a bouquet of roses for organizing the gala.

“I just want to thank all the hard working people in the child care sector. This is our night, so let’s have some fun,” said Bird.

Eleni Bakopanos, MP and parliamentary secretary for Ken Dryden, the minister responsible for developing a national child care program, recognized the commitment of all child care workers and the work done by CUPE 2204.

The crowd attending the gala represented a cross-section of workers from the child care sector: frontline early childhood educators, custodians and cooks, along with office staff and directors, turned out for the event.

Monica Lysack, executive director of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada, praised workers in the child care sector. “It was moving to witness the acknowledgement of workers, some of whom have worked in the field for over 25 years.”

“I hope that with the new funding from the federal government, workers will see that acknowledgement reflected in higher compensation,” added Lysack.