Members of CUPE 2484With child care in Ontario at a critical crossroads, the union that represents some 600 frontline early-years professionals in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has launched Raising the Floor, a campaign calling for better working conditions for early-years professionals and advancing the demand as one of the best way to ensure stable, high-quality child care for Toronto-area families.

Raising the Floor is the initiative of Local 2484 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), whose members work in more than 25 child care centres across the GTA. The campaign puts the spotlight on child care workers and the role they play in their sector’s strategy for a child care system that is universal, publicly funded, not-for-profit, accessible and affordable. 

“You can’t have a child care system without child care workers,” points out Erin Williams, president of CUPE 2484. “And right now, we don’t have enough of them, because skilled and dedicated people are leaving these jobs in ever greater numbers. 

“Raising the Floor is about improving working conditions for child care workers and respecting them as professionals. And better conditions will help recruit and retain staff and stabilize child care across the board.”

The campaign makes five key demands for child care workers: paid programming time, adequate paid sick days, workers’ compensation coverage, paid professional development time, and paid time for workers to meet and collaborate on best practices and early learning pedagogy. CUPE 2484 has put forward these proposals as part of their negotiations for new collective agreements with the Toronto-area child care centres staffed by its members.

“Child care is the foundation of our city’s post-pandemic recovery. That’s why we have to pay attention to the concerns of its workforce. Ignoring them will only risk further uncertainty and crisis in a system that is already at its breaking point,” said Williams.

“Raising the Floor is about the best ways to hear and value the voices of child care workers.”