Carefully sidestepping a commitment to increase compensation for early childhood educators, Premier Furey and Minister Osborne have been excited to mention the agreement with the federal government that will finally allow us to have universal childcare in Newfoundland and Labrador.
However, they can’t ignore the elephant in the room any longer. Early childhood educators are undervalued and underpaid.
Would you choose to work somewhere you’ll receive poverty wages? Would you choose a job where you are forced to fight for a wage increase every time the cost of living goes up? Would you choose a job knowing that you’ll never be able to afford to retire?
If the premier and minister want the childcare plan to be a success, they must include the means for early childhood educators to lead healthy, productive lives, and to retire with dignity.
In our submission to government, CUPE offers four measures that are needed to recruit and retain qualified staff:
An adjustment to the starting hourly wage rate, so no one in childcare makes less than $25 per hour
Annual indexation, so hourly rates keep up with the cost of living
Tuition-free early childhood programs at colleges and universities to attract more students, with more program locations, evening, and remote learning options
Prior learning assessments and recognition assessments offered free of charge for all, to ensure all qualified staff are certified to work to their full scope
This is not only about a crucial investment to grow our economy, but also about equality and just treatment for a sector of work predominately made up of women.
$10-a-day childcare is a big step forward to making life more affordable and more equal in Newfoundland and Labrador. Let’s make life better for early childhood educators too.