An open letter is calling on Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce to recognize the hard work of early childhood educators and the low wages they receive.
Kara Pihlak, the Executive Director at Oak Park Co-operative Children's Centre in London, Ontario, says workers have been kept in the dark even though they are deemed an essential service.
"We received no recognition for our work, no extra pay increase, and it's like we have been working in the shadows doing all this hard work with no recognition from the Ford government."
Though she does acknowledge the government has provided extra funding for PPE and other essential materials, there has been no pay increase even with workers going back to work two months earlier than teachers.
"My staff are wearing a mask and face shield while providing quality care to children, so I really put my hats off to them, they have been working hard, and they have not been complaining, and it's definitely taking a toll on them.”
Pihlak says since the start of the pandemic, going to work under COVID-19 measures has been weighing down on her staff.
"I do say he has provided some funding to the organization themselves, we have gotten funding for PPE, extra materials, which is excellent I appreciate that, however, the workers themselves have been completely left in the dark."
Pihlak said it's insulting that workers are expected to work with multiple news health guidelines, all while putting their own health at risk, with no additional monetary compensation.
She goes on to say most of the workers are women who don't make much more than minimum wage but are deemed essential during these tough times.
Pihlak is asking that in 2021 it will be a provincial priority to improve working conditions, public perception and wages of early childhood educators in Ontario.