The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) is the professional association for early childhood educators (ECEs) in Ontario. We support ECEs in their professional practice and advocate for the recognition and appropriate compensation that early childhood professionals need so that they can provide high quality programs for children and families. Well educated, well paid and competent early childhood educators are fundamental to high quality early years and child care programs that support children and families across the province. Our members work throughout Ontario in programs for young children and their families, including licensed centre based and home based child care, full-day kindergarten, family resource programs, Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres and as Resource Consultants who provide services and support for children and families with disabilities.
ECEs and early years staff have joined working people across Ontario to make it loud and clear that too many of us are working for low wages in part-time, temporary or contract jobs without employment benefits, workplace protection or the right to form, and keep, a union. For too many Ontario workers, full time work does not guarantee a life above the poverty line. Income and job insecurity keep us from making ends meet. Even with the professionalization of ECEs and the mounting evidence pointing to the immense importance of their work, ECEs have seen a very slow and limited increase in professional recognition through improved compensation and benefits. Low ECE salaries, inconsistent working conditions, and precarious work schedules have resulted in poor morale, job dissatisfaction and high staff turnover. Particularly in licensed child care programs, ECEs are transitioning over to full-day kindergarten, or worse, are leaving the sector altogether despite being passionate about their work. It is the experience of many early years and child care programs across Ontario that qualified ECEs cannot be recruited to work in these under-resourced early childhood environments that serve our youngest children. This is having a significant impact on child care staff consistency, program quality, and sector stability that promises to endure for years if it is not addressed now.