Today marks the National Day of Action on Child Care and Early Learning – an opportunity for child care providers and advocates to draw attention to much-needed investments in the sector.
As we know, the child care sector is currently facing a workforce crisis caused by low wages and poor working conditions for early childhood educators and other staff. As a result, Canada is missing out on hundreds of thousands of child care spaces, and families are waiting for provincial and federal governments to put kids first and fulfill their commitment to child care.
The workers who take care of our children deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We are so grateful for our hardworking and dedicated team at YWCA Hamilton, who go above and beyond every day to ensure the children in our care are safe and happy.
Thanks to the hard work and advocacy of child care providers across the country, there has been some progress made in the sector in recent years. We applaud the federal government’s work to reduce child care fees to $10 per day. In doing so, the federal government recognized that accessible child care supports children, families, and our country’s economy. The recent provincial announcement of an increase in minimum wage for early childhood educators is also an important step to address wage insufficiency, tackle the severe labour shortage, and attract workers to the sector.
However, there is still work to be done. Along with child care providers across the country, we are calling on the federal government to do more in the 2024 federal budget:
Provide equitable wages to early childhood educators and other staff
The federal government needs to provide $7 billion over three years in federal transfer payments to the provinces, territories, and Indigenous governments to fully implement competitive and equitable wage grids for early childhood educators and other staff, along with improved benefits and working conditions.
Fund the capital costs required to end the gaps in child care spaces
The federal government needs to provide $10 billion over the next three years to cover the capital costs associated with increasing the availability of licensed not-for-profit and public early learning and child care programs so that Canada can deliver accessible child care to all families that need it.
Make access to quality child care universal and equitable
Hundreds of thousands of Canadian families can’t find child care when they need it. The federal government has promised major expansion of not-for-profit and public early learning and child care across the country, yet this has not been delivered. Children with special needs, families in rural communities, low income families, racialized communities, newcomer families, and linguistic minorities all experience greater barriers to accessing child care.
The federal government must also implement the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework in order to ensure that Indigenous families can access high-quality and culturally responsive child care.
We are encouraging all staff to participate in the National Day of Action on Child Care and Early Learning. Please visit the campaign website and sign the open letter in support of the campaign. We are also distributing packages of crayons, colouring sheets and buttons to each Childcare Centre and encourage staff to wear them proudly. We will also have a button-maker set up in the 5R boardroom at MacNab today for all staff who would like to make their own buttons, plus more colouring sheets. All staff participating in these activities are welcome to take pictures of these to be submitted to comms for social media sharing.
We hope that this Day of Action will lead to increased investment in Budget 2024 to prevent hundreds of thousands of Canadian families from being left behind and excluded from affordable licensed child care. Thank you for your support in helping to make this happen.
YWCA Hamilton CEO Medora Uppal, Chelsea Kirkby, VP Strategic Initiatives and Program Development, and Sandra Parker, Director of Child, Youth & Developmental Services, show their support for early childhood educators and child care staff on the National Day of Action on Child Care and Early Learning.