More than 1,500 Early Childhood Educators (ECEs), child care workers, and supporters have signed an online letter calling on federal and provincial governments to ensure that the Ontario child care agreement includes a wage grid and strategy to address the province’s growing child care workforce crisis.
Ontario has until March 31st to sign onto the federal child care plan, or risk losing more than $1 billion in federal funding. The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) have released an open letter calling for:
- A salary grid that including a $25 per hour starting wage for child care workers and assistants;
- A $30 per hour starting wage for ECEs;
- A daily rate minimum for licensed home child care providers;
- Benefits package and decent work standards including paid sick days.
“The child care workforce is at a breaking point. Educators are burnt out, exhausted, and many are exiting the sector, leaving centres across the province short-staffed. Ontario’s child care plan must immediately address this crisis with a strategy to ensure decent work and pay for educators,” says Rachel Vickerson, Executive Director of the AECEO.
The letter further expands on how the worker shortage and years of chronic underfunding have impacted child care, especially as many centres were forced to permanently close during the pandemic, limit enrolment, or change operating hours. Frontline child care workers report that growing staff recruitment and retention issues will significantly inhibit Ontario’s plan to expand space and eliminate waitlists for child care, reports the OCBCC and AECEO.
“There is no child care without the child care workforce. They are the key to quality child care programs. The Canada-wide child care plan aims to expand child care spaces to serve more families, but that will be impossible without a plan to retrain and recruit ECEs,” says Carolyn Ferns, Policy Coordinator at the OCBCC.