Professional Pay & Decent Work

What is the Professional Pay & Decent Work campaign?

Decent work for Ontario’s Registered Early Childhood Educators and early years’ staff is a foundational pillar in order to build a better future for children and families in Ontario. Early childhood educators, staff, parents, children and community members can work together to shape the future of Ontario’s early years and child care system. 

As the decent work movement gains momentum in Ontario and around the world, it is important that RECEs and early years' staff become part of this broader movement for social and economic justice, fair work and compensation. The AECEO continues to advocate around the Fight for $15 and Fairness and other movements for decent work to help mobilize for positive change!

There are over 50,000 ECEs registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators and that number is growing. We are a vibrant, diverse and resilient group of dedicated professionals working in numerous programs where we care for, educate and nurture children while supporting and strengthening families and communities. RECEs deserve Professional Pay & Decent Work - no matter where they work in the sector. 

Current workforce context:

  • 24 % of RECEs working in licensed child care in Ontario earn less than $15/hour
  • 45% of RECEs earn between $15-$20/hour
  • Hourly wages in FDK are higher but DECEs are laid off in the summer and on breaks and they face an array of challenging and unfair working conditions
  • Many RECEs working in OEYCs and family support programs have not seen a raise for over a decade and they are not eligible for the Wage Enhancement Grant even though their work is of equal importance to RECEs in licensed child care.
  • There is a professionalization gap in the sector where the expectations and responsibilities of RECEs have increased through legislative and regulatory changes with very little improvement to wages and working conditions.

This year, as part of the Professional Pay & Decent Work Campaign, The AECEO will be celebrating and showcasing the socially important and valuable work of RECEs and early years' staff. The AECEO continues to work alongside the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, the Atkinson Centre, and Olivia Chow with the Institute for Change Leaders to inspire RECEs, staff and parents to share their child care stories and to work collaboratively to achieve the goals of the Professional Pay & Decent Work Campaign.

From now until June 2018, The AECEO and partnering institutions will be travelling across the province to ignite leadership and organize local action to win professional pay for professional work! Join us today by pledging your support for our campaign 

Campaign Support Pledge 

Engagement de soutien à la campagne (Français)

Decent Work Charter employer/organization endorsement


Building Skills for Change in Early Years and Child Care: Intensive Leadership Training 

Through ongoing consultation in the sector we knew that if our goal was to build an ECE lead movement for decent work that it was necessary to provide leadership and advocacy training to as many RECEs, staff and parents as we could. The Building Skills for Change leadership training has been an incredibly important part of our campaign this year. Olivia Chow and the Institute for Change Leaders (ICL) have become a significant supporter and partner in the campaign by offering their expertise in the development and delivery of this exciting and empowering workshop.

The Building Skills for Change in Early Years and Child Care workshop provides focused organizer training to motivate early childhood educators to join the AECEO's Professional Pay & Decent Work campaign. 

The curriculum teaches emerging leaders how to:

  • Tell your story to persuade and motivate others
  • Recruit and retain volunteers
  • Structure your team of leaders for growth
  • Strategize and choose tactics that build power and move decision makers
  • Fundraise, go viral on social media, and more

Participants take away skills and knowledge that can be used to organize Communities of Practice (CoP) and promote leadership among teams in a variety of early years settings. From January - September 2017 we have trained over 100 RECEs, staff and parents in four communities across Ontario. 


Task Force

In tandem with the Building Skills for Change training, 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 has two key functions:  

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. The Task Force’s recommendations on the Workforce Strategy will address 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.

For more information on members of the task force click here


A Shared Vision of Decent Work 

During the first year of the Professional Pay & Decent Work Campaign, the AECEO completed eight mobilization forums across Ontario, stopping in Sault Ste. MarieScarboroughWhitbyMississaugaWaterlooBrantfordKingston and Sudbury. Through these forums, we met with over 200 RECEs and early years’ staff. These forums aimed to increase dialogue and broaden understandings of decent work in the early childhood sector while also documenting the unique HR needs and challenges of the early childhood workforce in Ontario.

From these mobilization forums, it was noted that early childhood educators, and early years’ staff working in the child care and early years’ sector should be provided with decent work across the sector. It is imperative that we as a sector shed light on the importance of a shared vision of decent work for all early childhood educators and early years’ staff; In order for us as a profession to see change, we need to use our collective voice to advocate for change. Our wellbeing is the wellbeing of children. 

Our vision of decent work includes: 

decent wages; full-time, stable jobs; health benefits and pension coverage no matter where they work in the sector; working conditions that support staff to provide high quality programs including safe and healthy facilities, paid preparation time, lunch breaks and access to on-going training and professional learning opportunities.

Our vision is for all RECEs and the broader early childhood workforce to experience decent work through fair compensation, supportive work environments, a strong professional community, public recognition, increased access to collective bargaining and adequate representation and power in the process of change in the sector. For more information on the mobilization forums and the perspective of decent work please read our final report.

 "I'm More Than 'Just' an ECE": Decent Work from the Perspective of Ontario's Early Childhood Workforce


Why is the AECEO leading this campaign?

The Professional Pay for Professional Work campaign was officially launched following a very well attended forum on the issue of compensation for the early childhood workforce held at our 2013 provincial conference in Toronto. A panel of experts confirmed what research tells us about the lack of adequate compensation for ECE professionals – low compensation undermines quality. Since then, our campaign has continued to develop and implement strategies to address the wages and working conditions of RECEs and the broader early childhood workforce in Ontario.

The overarching goal of the campaign is to address the long-standing issue of low and inequitable compensation for early childhood educators in Ontario. This campaign calls on the government to fund professional pay for all RECEs in Ontario regardless of where they work. Professional pay should reflect RECEs' specialized training, the value of their work and their participation in continuous professional learning. No RECE should have to work for less that a professional wage and all RECEs should be recognized for their professional qualifications and practice.

The justification for the AECEO’s focus on professional pay is outlined in an article by Dr. Rachel Langford that was featured in eceLINK summer/fall 2013 which also included short articles by expert panelists Martha Friendly, Petr Varmuza and Shellie Bird.

Professional Pay for Professional Work: How do we get there?

By Dr. Rachel Langford, RECE, AECEO President (2012-2014)

The AECEO’s success in establishing a regulatory college for Ontario early childhood educators and creating a legislated professional credential for ECEs was a fundamental achievement in our mission to improve compensation and career opportunities for all early childhood educators in the province. Now, with the Ministry of Education’s focus on modernizing Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Ontario, the time is right to initiate the next steps in resolving these long-standing issues.

The recent “You Bet We Still Care” report substantiated the need for better wages for ECE professionals if we are ever to tackle the issue of recruitment and retention. Yet there are many challenges ahead and varying opinions on what, and how, the issue of professional pay for ECEs should be addressed.

When the AECEO board decided to focus its advocacy work on Professional Pay for Professional Work, we knew that we would face many challenges. Some of these challenges might be called distractions.

In the case of claims for Professional Pay for Professional Work and a drive towards realizing this goal we will be challenged by both distractions and possibly driven to distraction by some roadblocks.

We have identified three distractions that many of us have been vulnerable to and some of which AECEO board members have discussed. Some of these distractions may be hard to hear but it is important to put them on the table for discussion.

Read full article here



Regional Wage Scales for RECEs Working in Regulated Childcare in Ontario

Piecemeal Solutions Get Piecemeal Results: Addressing Wages in Regulated Child Care in Ontario

From Vision to Action: ECEs role in the Canadian child care movement

Continuing the movement for the ECE workforce video series

Shared Framework for building an early childhood education and care system for all



Showing 4 reactions

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  • commented 2017-10-13 17:24:28 -0400
    I am working towards becoming an RECE. But I think we should be paid $25 and up. We work so hard to take care and educate other people’s children. Our job is not just “babysitting job.” We are required to observe children, teach them self-regulation, teach them about morals and values etc. We have to face bitter parents who blames us for everything. So YES, YES and YES I am signing this petition. #professionalpay #Decentwork #RECE
  • commented 2017-08-30 10:16:55 -0400
    Early Childhood Educators should be identified as qualified professionals!! Professionals should be payed professionally for their decent work!!
  • commented 2017-06-11 12:34:31 -0400
    Respect your ECE for all equal rights.
  • commented 2017-06-03 20:11:14 -0400
    I am with you for a decent work and professional pay according to our Education.