TORONTO, ON – Parents and educators from across Ontario are asking Education Minister Lisa Thompson and the Ford government to confirm that they will continue a $2 per hour wage grant for Early Childhood Educators and child care staff beyond the end of March. A petition calling on the government to continue the grant has garnered more than 11,000 hard copy signatures from educators and parents around Ontario.
The grant provides $2 per hour in wage support to an estimated 39,000 early childhood educators and staff working in licensed child care in Ontario. To date, the Ford government has not confirmed whether the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant will continue beyond March 31, 2019.
“This is creating real anxiety for people. Educators don’t know if this funding will be there after the end of March or if they’ll have their wages cut,” said Carolyn Ferns of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, which started the petition in response to educators across the province concerned that the funding is on the chopping block. “Leaving educators hanging like this, not knowing if they’ll receive a $2 per hour wage cut, is simply a cruel thing to do to people who dedicate their lives to educating our youngest children.”
Paula Greenberg, a child care worker from Hamilton, is worried about the impact that losing the grant will have on educators: “Without the wage enhancement, the quality of life for child care workers is threatened, which, in turn, will affect our work life negatively,” said Greenberg, who helped collect over 600 signatures from the Hamilton area.
Losing the grant would force child care centres to make an impossible choice between cutting staff wages or raising parent fees to make up for the funding cut.
In a letter to her MPP, Debbie Milne, a child care director from Belleville, says that losing the grant would “destabilize child care, as educators would need to leave the field to seek alternate employment to live and care for their families.”
Losing the grant could also have a negative impact on parents if child care centres raise parent fees to make up for the loss of the grant. “Ontario already has the highest child care fees in the country. Parents simply can’t afford to take another hit,” said Ferns.
The grant was introduced in 2015 to help close the gender wage gap and increase income security for early childhood educators and child care staff in licensed child care centres.
The petitions will be presented at Queen’s Park by local MPPs over the next two weeks.
Carolyn Ferns, Policy Coordinator, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, 647-218-1275, [email protected]