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Child care workers matter!

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas issued the following statement today to mark Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day.

It’s 2016. So why we are still making the case for quality, universal childcare?

Today marks the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care’s Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day. It’s a day to recognize the invaluable contribution child care workers make. On this day, October 26, OPSEU wholeheartedly salutes all members who deliver child care or are involved in educating the child care workers of tomorrow.

The first years of life are days of wonder, and children have a right to learn and grow in a nurturing environment that helps them flourish and thrive. As for their future development, the benefits of quality child care and early childhood education over the long term have been extensively documented. Government investments in child care don’t cost money; they save money.

Given these facts, you would think that funding for child care and early childhood education would be a foundation stone of every provincial and federal budget – like hospitals or public schools. But that’s not the case.

Governments continue to undervalue caregiving and early childhood education. Child care workers still struggle to make a living wage.

The struggle to achieve pay equity in this female-dominated profession has been a difficult one. It is a fight that OPSEU remains resolutely committed to winning.

The recent announcement that the province will fund 100,000 new child care spaces over the next five years for children 0-4 years old is a step in the right direction. But it is not universal and accessible child care. If achieved, it will double the current spaces for 0-4 year olds, but that will only cover 40 per cent of children. And it does not address the issue of affordability.

In 2016, families are still waiting for universal public child care delivered by a well-trained workforce whose expertise is recognized and valued. What we need now is political leadership. The way to get that is by continuing to work with all our allies to keep on pressuring governments to do the right thing.

Today, we celebrate the many ways in which child care workers and early childhood educators shape our children’s present and our society’s future for the better. On behalf of all 130,000 OPSEU members, I want to say thank you to all those workers.

Enjoy your day.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union