AECEO response to 2017 Ontario budget
The AECEO welcomes the Ontario government’s $200 million in operating funding and injection into the child care subsidy system, however we are still waiting for a commitment to address the chronic undervaluing of the Early Childhood (EC) workforce.
Building on the government’s promise for 100,000 new child care spaces announced in September 2016, the budget devotes funds to the creation of 24,000 more child care spaces this year and subsidies for up to 60% of these spaces.
“We were hoping that the budget would outline the government’s funding plan for the full expansion over five years,” said Lyndsay Macdonald, Provincial Coordinator at the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario. “Early Childhood Educators and Early Years staff in Ontario need to know that affordability for families won’t come at the expense of decent wages – we really can’t talk about affordability for parents without also talking about good wages and working conditions for educators.”
While we know from previous announcements that the Wage Enhancement Grant will continue this year, Early Childhood Educators and Early Years staff need to know that a more systemic solution to improve wages and working conditions will be featured prominently as part of the government’s renewed child care framework.
It is critical to point out that 100,000 new, high quality child care spaces are dependent on at least 20,000 new jobs for ECEs and staff. To attract and retain the best educators in our sector we need a comprehensive plan to address the current recruitment and retention strains. Without addressing decent work for the EC workforce, it will be impossible to sustain the quality child care spaces that exist, let alone expand the availability of quality child care options for parents. As it stands, the EC workforce remains in a position where they can seldom afford the very services they provide.
We are heartened that Minister Naidoo-Harris has announced, “an important pillar in our upcoming framework includes new ways to support the workforce, our early childhood educators and provide opportunities for our world class ECEs”. We wait optimistically for the renewed framework.
Ontario budget puts focus on children’s well-being
Toronto Star - March 27, 2017