/Protect ECE wages

Protect ECE wages

This is a love letter to all Early Childhood Educators…
The past few months have been tough as our sector has advocated strongly and loudly for what we know we deserve.
What would you do if you no longer had a child care provider?
someone working in the Early Learning and Care sector without a
background in ECE (I work in an admin role for Compass Early Learning
& Care), I have to say that although I have always supported the
continuation of the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant to ECEs in
Ontario, I didn’t fully appreciate its importance until I spent five
minutes in a toddler room.
is nothing in the world that can prepare you for the responsibility of
having five infants and toddlers in your care. While visiting one of our
beautiful childcare centres, I agreed to spend a few minutes out in the
toddler yard while the usual Early Childhood Educator took a quick
break to go to the washroom. 
me give you a bit of background – I absolutely LOVE children. Whenever I
have the opportunity to take care of a friend’s child, I jump at the
chance! I love the natural curiosity, kindness, and eagerness with which
toddlers approach the world, and I find it rejuvenating to spend time
with them, as it brings out my best qualities too, as we explore the
world together. There are many special little ones in my life, and I
have even spent an overnight or two caring for children, although I
don’t have any myself. Looking after one or two children is one thing,
but beyond that, it becomes an incredible practice in alert awareness,
mindful presence, quick reflexes, and an incredible amount of patience!
was absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to put my passion in
education and early childhood education to practice. While there is no
way to convey this without experiencing it yourself, let me at least
attempt to describe it for those who hadn’t considered what it might be
like to be an Early Childhood Educator… 
I stood outside on the freezing cold day for what was probably less
than five minutes, here is what I had to juggle. I rotated between
holding and calming a fussing baby and a toddler who seemed insistent on
experiencing the snow without mittens, keeping track of another baby
who was dozing off in a sled, as well as managing to keep the other two
toddlers safe as they exercised their independence, climbing up and down
icy hills and stairs, testing their tolerance for risk, which is an
important daily practice for toddlers! 
any seasoned educator, this was a calm, average day, but for me, it was
the most responsibility I’ve ever felt (though I’ve worked for several
organizations and have been on boards for organizations with budgets of
millions of dollars)! Beyond this humbling five-minute exercise, the
educator would then go on to help some with the potty, change diapers of
others, serve food, clean up after lunch, keep them engaged in
educational activities based on their emerging interests and needs, as
well as document it all in order to share the day’s learnings with
parents. ECEs are our unsung heroes!
to say, by the end of my five minutes (which felt far longer) of merely
keeping them safe, I knew exactly why we MUST preserve the wage
enhancement grant. Registered Early Childhood Educators deserve $1
million per year each! The very least we can do is ensure they maintain a
modest $2/hour top up to their wages to keep their jobs financially
ECEs lost their wage enhancement grant, many would have to find
alternate employment in order to meet their basic needs. The
implications on our society would be huge. What would you do if you no
longer had a child care provider?
a child care organization, we know that quality childcare means
investment in staff, which is why we work hard to provide meaningful
personal and professional development opportunities for our staff. We
also know that one of the things that retains good staff is decent
wages. As an organization, we have made the commitment to be a ‘living
wage employer,’ and have done extensive market research to ensure we
keep up with the cost of living in all of our service areas. 
order to meet this wage without putting the burden entirely onto
parents, we rely on funding such as the Provincial Wage Enhancement
Grant. If it were to disappear, the cost of keeping good staff would end
up directly on the shoulders of parents, as we would not, and cannot
afford to take away $2/hour from each of our staff and continue to run
an organization that prides itself on offering licensed, quality child
care to all of our children and families.
invite you to sign your name to a petition calling for the Ontario
Government to continue the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant as a small
action of solidarity toward the women and men who care for the next
generation – arguably the most important job in the world!
Hanah Howlett McFarlane
Communications Coordinator
Compass Early Learning & Care