AECEO's Decent Work Task Force
During the past few years the AECEO has been leading the charge to improve compensation and working conditions for registered early childhood educators (RECEs) and staff through the Professional Pay & Decent Work Campaign.
Since 2015, with funding from the Atkinson Foundation, the AECEO has joined forces with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), the Atkinson Centre and Institute for Change Leaders to organize and mobilize Ontario early childhood educators in this movement, broadening the focus to include decent work. In an effort to include the voices of those closest to this work, we organized 8 forums from Sault Ste. Marie to Ottawa. In recognition of the valuable role local early childhood leaders play in advancing the movement and galvanizing communities around these critical issues, in 2017 we provided 2-day intensive leadership training in four of the communities and have trained over 100 educators, staff and parents in the Ganz organizing framework.
In tandem, we convened a Task Force, Mobilizing the Early Years Workforce: Community Voices on Decent Work in Early Childhood comprised of researchers, academics, RECEs, employers and policy experts to guide and our inform our work.
The Task Force's two key functions in 2017:
1. Develop recommendations on the Ministry of Education's Workforce Strategy
2. Develop a Decent Work Charter to support our Shared Vision of Decent Work in the Early Years and Child Care sector
The Ontario Early Childhood Sector Decent Work Charter encapsulates the principles of decent work within workplaces, communities and the broader society. We all value young children and their families. We all strive to provide quality experiences for these same children and families. Making a commitment to the principles of decent work furthers quality programs and services. Transforming Work in Ontario's Early Years and Child Care Sector outlines the Task Force’s recommendations on the workforce strategy and addresses the systemic and structural supports that early years and child care programs/organizations require in order to meet the principles of decent work set out in the Charter.
An important driver of the Professional Pay and Decent Work campaign is the creation of strong policy recommendations to the Ministry of Education on their workforce strategy - part of their five year action plan to implement Ontario’s Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework (2017). It is important to the AECEO and the Decent Work Task Force that our workforce strategy recommendations are well informed by RECEs, early years staff and others in the sector. AECEO engaged more than 4,000 early childhood educators in a consultation survey about what should be included in the government’s workforce strategy.
Regarding wages and compensation, 72% reported that they do not feel they are appropriately compensated for their work. More than 9 out of 10 (91%) of respondents agreed that a publicly funded wage scale is an appropriate mechanism to improve wages in the sector. Improving wages and working conditions is critical to meeting the new staffing demands of expanded child care and parent-child (EarlyON) spaces. The Decent Work Task Force will release a report of survey results in spring 2018.
To kick off our first provincial week of action on October 23rd, the Decent Work Task Force held a live webinar to present the Ontario Early Childhood Sector Decent Work Charter, ask and answer questions and provide information on the consultation survey that informed the workforce strategy recommendations. The webinar was recorded and is now available online for viewing and sharing!