Three children and a childcare worker wearing masks

Early childhood educators are calling on the Rankin government to make their health and safety at work a top priority during the circuit breaker and school closures currently happening in Halifax, Nova Scotia. If child care centres remain open during the current circuit breaker, additional preventative measures need be taken to reduce the risk for staff and for the children.

“With the number of active COVID-19 cases on the rise, early childhood educators believe the Province has not done enough to prevent exposure in child care centres,” says CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen.

“If Public Health does not recommend closing child care centres, like they did with schools, then we need the Premier and the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development to ensure that the current cohort of children attending centres now does not increase,” says CUPE 4745 President Margot Nickerson. “There is too much risk involved that the centres are not prepared to take on in the event that any staff or children at our centres contract the virus.”

“We’re calling on the Province to come up with a comprehensive plan, that covers all possible scenarios to keep staff and children safe,” says Nickerson.

“A one-month-old child in Newfoundland was reported to have contracted COVID-19. What if that happens here? What happens if an ECE is required to self-isolate or becomes ill? There are staff shortages and substitutes are difficult to find in Nova Scotia right now,” says Nickerson.

McFadgen adds, “There has been a consistent devaluing of ‘care’ work by the provincial government. Early childhood education – much like long-term care – is chronically underfunded and underappreciated. That must change. The people we rely on to provide quality, public child care in our province deserve our respect and so much more, especially now in these difficult times.”