October 21, 2021 is the 21st annual Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day. Each year the day is proclaimed by municipalities, school boards, and child care operators across Ontario. This year we will be celebrating Early Learning and Child Care Heroes for the vital work they do in our communities and their role in getting us all through the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day is especially important as we look forward to a system of not-for-profit, publicly funded, accessible, affordable, high-quality care in Canada. After decades of advocacy, the good work and important contributions of workers in child care are finally being recognized. Now, it’s time for Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Lecce to pen a deal that protects and respects early learning and care in Ontario through robust investment in public services, not private care. We are on the cusp of a child care revolution in Ontario—and it starts with better working conditions and supports for child care workers.

Advocates for a universal early learning and care have been calling for a system overhaul that features affordable fees for families, decent work and pay for educators, and enough space for all. Advocates have even provided the provincial government with a “Roadmap to Universal Child Care in Ontario” featuring 20 policy interventions to make that system a reality. Ontario must collaborate with the federal government to prioritize women, children, families and communities—and make universal child care a reality.

On Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day, we recognize the dedication, expertise, and hard work of workers in child care, especially now during COVID-19. The pandemic has exposed just how important child care is to our lives, the economy, and the participation of women in the workplace.

This Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day, take a moment to tell a child care worker that you appreciate the care, education, and service they provide to our kids, our families, and our communities. CUPE Ontario would like to thank all the Child Care Workers and Early Childhood Educators for their dedication and commitment to our children.

Sign the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care’s petition to encourage Premier Ford and Minister Lecce to sign the child care agreement today.