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 ECEs in Ontario regardless os where they work. Professional pay should reflect ECEs' specialized training, the value of their work and their participation in continuous professional learning. No ECE should have to work for less that a professional wage and all ECEs 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.
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.
The Professional Pay for Professional Work campaign continued to gain momentum with an in-depth article by Shellie Bird and Shani Halfon, Piecemeal Solutions Get Piecemeal Results: Addressing Wages in Regulated Child Care in Ontario and the launch of the AECEO’s petition for Professional Pay.
Our goal for the petition is to reach 10,000 signatures – sign your name today and add your voice to the movement for professional pay and decent work for the early childhood workforce!
To support the launch of our petition the AECEO produced two exciting videos highlighting the crucial role that early childhood professionals play in delivering high quality programs to children and families in Ontario. Please watch and share the AECEO’s Professional Pay for Professional Work videos with your networks and on your social media pages.
Special thanks to Chris Bell Photography and to all of our RECE colleagues who volunteered their time to be in this video, you’ve helped us bring the campaign for professional pay to life!
To further engage the early childhood sector in dialogue focused on supporting RECEs and the broader early childhood workforce the AECEO published a groundbreaking discussion paper, Regional Wage Scales for RECEs Working in Regulated Childcare in Ontario which was released in conjunction with an article by Kim Hiscott, Implementing the $1 Wage Enhancement: Challenges, Solutions and Opportunities in eceLINK fall 2015.
In November of 2015 the AECEO brought experts in the sector together for a panel at Conestoga College, Continuing the Movement for the ECE Workforce. This panel focused on next steps to achieving Professional Pay for Professional Work for ECEs in Ontario. The panel was filmed and is now available as a video series accompanied by a discussion guide for individuals and groups. This video series is an excellent CPL opportunity for any RECEs looking to learn more about policy, advocacy and professionalization in Ontario’s early childhood sector.
Mobilizing the early childhood workforce in the movement for #DecentWork
In 2016 with support from the Atkinson Foundation’s Decent Work Fund, and the assistance of our partners, the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, we have embarked on an innovative project to take our Professional Pay campaign to the next level and amplify the voices and participation of early childhood educators and allies in the movement for decent work.
As the decent work movement gains momentum in Ontario and around the world, it is important that Ontario’s early childhood workforce (EC workforce) becomes part of this broader movement for social and economic justice, fair work and compensation. There are over 50,000 ECEs registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators and that number is growing. Registered ECEs also work with thousands of other staff and professionals that make up the broader early childhood workforce. We are a vibrant, diverse and resilient group of dedicated professionals working in numerous programs that support and sustain families, children and communities.
The Professional Pay & Decent Work for All project completed eight mobilization forums across Ontario. We visited Sault Ste. Marie, Scarborough, Whitby, Missisauga, Waterloo, Brantford, Kingston and Sudbury and met with over 200 RECEs and early years staff. The project 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.
As we wrap up our first year of this exciting project we are proud to share our final report, “I’m More Than ‘Just’ an ECE”: Decent Work from the Perspective of Ontario’s Early Childhood Workforce
Stay tuned for more exciting developments from our Professional Pay for Professional Work & Decent Work for All campaign