Advocates call for renewed political pressure as child care workers, early childhood educators celebrated

In a year that saw the cancellation of dedicated federal funding for childcare, parents and advocates supporting child care workers and early childhood educators vowed to keep publicly funded child care at the top of political agendas at all government levels.

"This is an important day for child care workers and early childhood educators," said Sid Ryan, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) that represents childcare workers and early childhood educators. Speaking at the 6th Annual Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day at Toronto City Hall, Ryan said, "It's an opportunity to honour them and the vitally important work they do, and the best way we can honour them is to fund the child care system properly.”

“It is crucial for all of us to insist on a child care system dedicated to quality, universality, accessibility, inclusiveness and developmental care and education,” said Elizabeth Ablett, Executive Director of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC). “Trained and knowledgeable child care staff are the cornerstone of quality child care.”

“Child care workers play a key role in shaping children’s social, physical, emotional and cognitive development. It is simply not acceptable to allow publicly funded, quality child care to languish; we need to build child care through a new law similar to the Canadian Health Act,” added Ryan. “We and our coalition partners in child care are dedicated to keeping pressure on all three levels of government as we move into municipal and provincial elections and a possible federal election.”

Despite the Harper government’s cancellation of dedicated child care funding, the City of Toronto, working with the provincial government, has opened 57 new child care centres across the city this year.

This day of recognition and appreciation for the importance of the work of child care workers and early childhood educators was founded six years ago by CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), and has been proclaimed by municipalities across the province, including the Toronto City Council.

Sponsors now include the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the United Steelworkers, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, the Canadian Auto Workers, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario Federation of Labour, and the National Union of Public and General Employees.

This year’s celebrations come just weeks before municipal elections are held across Ontario. The OCBCC and CUPE see this as an opportunity for the community and candidates to show their appreciation for the important role child care plays in the lives and well-being of all children.