QUEEN'S PARK — Ontario NDP Child Care critic Bhutila Karpoche released the following statement on Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day:
"Despite Ontario’s parents paying among the highest child care fees in the country, child care in our province is in a state of crisis. Early years and child care workers have long since been overlooked in child care policy-making discussions.
Child care workers and early childhood educators are essential workers. The vitally important work of these dedicated people has been historically undervalued, with low pay, poor working conditions, and high turnover. They are constantly being asked to do more with less.
Yet it is they who do the challenging, invaluable work of caring for our youngest children during a critical period in their lives, looking out for their physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being. Their work enables parents of young children—women in particular—to return to the workforce.
Child care workers deserve a government that listens to their needs and concerns. But government after government in Ontario has undervalued child care workers and underfunded the sector. For many workers in the sector, the pandemic has brought about a breaking point. They are stressed, overworked, and poorly paid. The sector is facing a staffing crisis, with nearly half of all workers saying they have considered leaving during the pandemic. Without immediate action, even more centres and programs across the province face possible closure.
Doug Ford has ignored child care workers throughout the pandemic. He refused to give them pandemic pay, or provide funding for better, safer working conditions.
Today, on Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day, I will table a bill to give child care and early years workers a seat at the table. The bill is based on recommendations from the alarming Forgotten on the Frontline report, released earlier this year by the Association of Early Childhood Educators' of Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare.
The bill would create an Early Years and Child Care Workers Advisory Commission comprised of people representative of the early years and child care workforce, including Black, Indigenous and racialized educators, and would help inform government policy to best support child care workers, improve working conditions, and address staff shortages.
We need a government that values and invests in our youngest children and those that care for them. Workers, children and parents deserve so much better."
The Ontario NDP will also continue to call on Doug Ford to sign a funding agreement with the federal government for universal, public and non-profit child care that costs parents $10 a day."