Lyndsay Macdonald has created this how-to-share-your-story video for ECEs and anyone who wants to be part of our professional pay & decent work campaign.
The child care story project is an important part of the AECEO’s Professional Pay & Decent Work Campaign. Our goal is to collect and share stories from across the province to highlight the need for quality affordable early years and child care programs where registered early childhood educators and staff are well supported with professional pay and decent work
Our first video is from Carolyn Ferns. Carolyn first started her career as an ECE working in an infant/toddler room when she realized that there was an overwhelming amount of families unable to afford licensed child care and that the ECE profession was extremely underpaid. Carolyn then decided to return to school to further her career in ECE research so that she could make a change.
Everyone has a child care story to share: we are asking RECEs, early years staff, parents, children and community members to share their child care stories in support of the AECEO’s Professional Pay & Decent Work campaign.
You can send your completed story to [email protected] and/or share on social media and be sure to tag the AECEO and your MPP along with Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris @MPPIndiraNH and Premier Kathleen Wynne @Kathleen_Wynne
Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs regarding Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017
July 24, 2017
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.
- 24% of Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECE) and 67% of other program staff working in licensed child care earn less than $15/hr.
- Many ECE professionals are choosing to leave the sector entirely, despite being passionate about their work due to low wages, inconsistent working conditions, high turnover, and job dissatisfaction that plague the early years and child care sector in Ontario.
- RECEs working in Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres and other family support programs that currently make less than $15 an hour and do not receive the government’s Wage Enhancement Grant will finally get a raise with the transition to a $15 min wage.
- Low wage and precarious work that keeps families and children living in poverty can have a devastating effect on young children during their most formative years.
While Bill 148 is a critical first step to addressing these workforce issues in the early years and child care sector, the government of Ontario still must address the root of the child care crisis: wages cannot be tied to parent fees and affordable high quality child care cannot be provided through the market.
The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148) introduces many important changes to address Ontario’s outdated labour laws. The proposed changes in Bill 148 to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Labour Relations Act (LRA) provide a good start to addressing precarious work to deal with changing workplace practices.
However, we are calling for amendments to Bill 148 to ensure it can close the gaps and raise the floor of minimum standards for the highest possible number of workers in Ontario.
Millions of workers (and their families) in this province are waiting to see how your committee will pave the way to strengthen our archaic labour laws. We are calling on you to reject suggestions that will make work more precarious, under the guise of enabling flexibility for the kind of business practices that continue to exert downward pressure on the wages and working conditions of all of us.
The bulk of evidence shows that decent work is the foundation of a strong economy, better health outcomes, and reduced inequality. We disagree with those who suggest otherwise.
The Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario fully supports the recommendations and amendments put forward in the submissions by the Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services, Decent Work and Health Network, Migrant Workers’ Alliance for Change, Injured Workers’ Consultants Community Legal Clinic and the Ontario Federation of Labour as part of the Fight for $15 and Fairness.
"Over the past 30 years there have been a number of initiatives in Ontario aimed at increasing wages for the early childhood education and child care (ECEC) workforce working in regulated child care centres and regulated home child care. In this article we will look back at what has been done to improve wages for the ECEC workforce in Ontario and examine how e ective these initiatives have been for achieving professional wages. Recent changes to the provincial child care funding formula and the $1 per hour wage increase for some staff working in the regulated child care sector will also be analyzed. A concluding discussion about where we are now and how we might begin to move forward will identify some critical points for addressing the chronic issue of the regulated child care workforce’s low wages."
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.