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:
- RECE’s wages still do not adequately reflect the value of their work or their level of education and experience
- 16% of RECEs working in licensed child care earn between $11.40-$15/hr (2017)
- 45% of RECEs working in child care earn between $15-$20/hr (2017)
- hourly wages in FDK are higher but DECEs are laid off in the summer and they can face challenging working conditions
- RECEs working in EarlyON programs are not eligible for the Wage Enhancement Grant even though their work is of equal importance to RECEs in licensed child care.
- AECEO identified a professionalization gap in the sector where the expectations and responsibilities of RECEs have increased through legislative and regulatory changes with little improvement to wages and working conditions.
The Professional Pay & Decent Work campaign encourages RECEs and early years staff to celebrate and showcase their socially important and valuable work with children and families. 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.
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?
In 2017 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 had 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.
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. Marie, Scarborough, Whitby, Mississauga, Waterloo, Brantford, Kingston 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