This year, the Professional Pay & Decent Work project continues to build power as registered early childhood educators from across the province join together in an ECE led movement for decent work. From sharing our stories, to hosting local events that raise awareness and increase support for improved wages and working conditions - RECEs, early childhood staff, and parents are effectively organizing for quality, affordable, accessible early years and child care programs that have decent work for educators at the heart.
The AECEO has been working closely with our partners, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), Institute for Change Leaders (ICL) and the Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development. Together, we are focused on honing the strength and skills of the early childhood (EC) workforce to build an ECE led movement. We will continue to build the power needed to induce public policy progress on wages and working conditions for registered early childhood educators (RECEs) and staff in Ontario. Engaging a critical mass of informed supporters will build the AECEO`s power - bring our campaign to the next level and reinforce our position as the voice for RECEs in Ontario.
Project achievements to date:
- Trained over 100 RECEs, parents and child care workers across Ontario
- Established 5 local Communities of Practice/Decent Work Teams
- Secured Workforce Strategy as a pillar of Ontario’s Renewed Early Years and Child Care Policy Framework (2017)
- Decent work teams hosted local events across the province for ECE Appreciation Day and the Week of Action in October 2017
- Over 2000 individuals have pledged to support the campaign
- 47 Organizations/employers have endorsed the Early Childhood Sector Decent Work Charter
- 4,000 RECEs, staff and other professionals from the sector responded to AECEO’s Workforce Strategy Consultation Survey
- AECEO’s Decent Work Task Force delivered its Workforce Strategy Recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Education in November 2017
- Secured $12M in funding to child care operators across the province to stabilize fee increases related to new minimum wage
- Professional Pay for Professional Work Petition achieved its goal of 10,000 signatures!!
- Ontario government announces plan to provide free child care for preschool aged children and a wage scale for early childhood educators
Ontario Ministry of Education releases the Growing Together: Ontario’s Early Years and Child Care Workforce Strategy that includes 5 key action areas:
- 1. Establishing Fair Compensation
- 2. Improving Working Conditions
- 3. Enhancing Skills and Opportunities
- 4. Valuing Contributions
- 5. Increasing Recruitment
Ontario’s Early Years and Child Care Workforce Strategy is a major win for our campaign, for RECEs, and early childhood staff across Ontario. AECEO’s Decent Work Task Force recommendations called for a provincially funded wage scale with a $25/hour minimum for RECEs and we are pleased to see that the Ontario government has a plan to implement a wage grid for all program staff that reflects qualifications and experience. We will continue to work with government to ensure that the workforce strategy is implemented following the provincial election on June 7th.
The AECEO will continue to raise the voice of the 9,700 RECEs working in Ontario school boards as DECEs in the full-day kindergarten program. AECEO’s Decent Work Task Force made recommendations calling for the province to change the positions of full-time Designated Early Childhood Educators working in the publicly-funded school systems to year-round and salaried status with compensation commensurate with other full time educators in the public education systems. The Task Force has also recommended that the Ontario government commission an external review of the Full-Day Kindergarten educator team and classroom conditions to inform future planning and development.
Local Communities of Practice/ Decent Work Teams
In 2017 we partnered with Olivia Chow and the Institute for Change Leaders to host the Building Skills for Change leadership training in four cities/regions: Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo Region and Thunder Bay. The training curriculum is based on the successful work of Marshall Ganz, a Harvard professor who was a key organizing strategist during the Obama U.S presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012.
This innovative 2-day training workshop helped to spur the creation of 5 local Communities of Practice (CoPs) that are working with the AECEO as decent work teams to organize and build capacity in their local communities:
- Early Years Professionals Rise Up – Toronto
- Early Years Coalition Waterloo Region
- Halton Advocates for Quality Childcare
- ECE Unite – Thunder Bay
- ECE Power – Ottawa.
This year, we provided a second training workshop to follow up with these teams. The goal of the follow up training was to build on the success and momentum achieved in 2017 by deepening local team engagement and infrastructure, expanding reach, visibility and partnership, and continuing to foster credibility and relevance to build our effectiveness and capacity.
Under the leadership and direction of Bernice Cipparrone-McLeod, the AECEO’s Decent Work Task Force has accomplished the important work that we prioritized in 2017:
- Develop policy recommendations to address issues and challenges that were documented during our Professional Pay & Decent Work for All mobilization forums in 2016;
- Develop a Decent Work Charter for employers to endorse and support our Shared Vision of Decent Work in the Early Years and Child Care sector.
In June 2017 the AECEO claimed a significant win in our fight for professional pay and decent work when the government of Ontario announced they would develop a workforce strategy to improve compensation, recruitment and retention of RECEs.
The Decent Work Task Force immediately began researching and drafting recommendations to inform the strategy, and a key part of our process was to engage RECEs and staff in this important policy action. The Task Force’s Consultation Survey was in field from October 20th – November 23rd and garnered 4,000 responses from RECEs, staff and other professionals from the sector that informed and backed the workforce strategy recommendations, Transforming Work in Ontario’s Early Years and Child Care Sector, that were delivered to the Ministry of Education on November 30th 2017.
At the same time, the Task Force launched the Ontario Early Childhood Sector Decent Work Charter, an aspirational HR document to support the shared vision of decent work that was developed with mobilization forum participants in 2016 (chapter 1 of our project). We are confident that the sector supports the principles of decent work. Transforming Work in Ontario’s Early Years and Child Care Sector addresses the systemic and structural supports required to achieve the principles of decent work that are set out in the Charter. The Task Force and the AECEO know that providers and operators need more funding and support from provincial and municipal governments; that is why our approach is two pronged.
Engaging RECEs and the broader sector in this important policy process has brought new visibility to the AECEO and increased our relevance with the early childhood (EC) workforce. With over 100 RECEs trained in the Ganz-based community organizing framework and 5 local Communities of Practice (CoPs) working with us as campaign teams our project has shown us that building an ECE led movement is no longer just a dream.
The next phase of this project through 2018-19 will see the AECEO optimize its strength as the professional association for all RECEs in Ontario so that we can continue to support and promote RECEs and the early childhood profession for decades to come.
Decent work for the EC workforce is a realistic and long overdue goal. As an almost entirely female workforce performing a critical social service through caring for and educating young children, decent work for RECEs and early years staff means a better society for us all.
When early childhood educators come together to build power we have a much stronger collective voice as a profession. An overarching goal of the AECEO’s Professional Pay & Decent Work project is to unite all RECEs in influencing positive change that will benefit us all. We strongly believe that all RECEs need to support one another no matter where they work. We all face different challenges depending on where we live and work but in our hearts we are all early childhood educators and we are stronger together.