The opportunity to intern at the AECEO during the provincial elections was a really great learning experience. I got to see firsthand, the on-going advocacy work of the association as they worked hard to ensure early childhood educator voices were being heard by candidates and voters.
I have a bitter-sweet feeling about how the election turned out. I feel conflicted because child care was a key election issue, with all four political parties releasing their child care plan. Each of the parties: Green, Liberal, New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Progressive Conservative Party (PC), outlined where they stand on child care. The Liberal and NDP were the only parties that made commitments to move Ontario towards universal child care and it was apparent that these two parties understand how important it is for every child and family to have access to affordable, high-quality child care. While the Green party didn't commit to universal child care they had a plan to provide free child care for working parents who have children under the age of three years old. From my point of view, the PC party that had the weakest platform on child care because they only promised a tax rebate for some expenses on child care, which is not universal and fails to address ongoing systemic issues of affordability, quality and professional pay for educators.
Child care is important for all citizens and we need a government that prioritizes universal, affordable child care, as quality child care spaces for all children and families needs to be accessible. My thoughts on universal child care in Ontario is that it is extremely important that all families and children have an equal right to receive the same level of care. Universal child care would provide a boost to the economy as it increases job opportunities for both parents and single-parent families, so parents can make a living while having their child receive the highest-quality care possible.
Another commitment that the Liberals and NDP included in their platforms was to address decent work and professional pay for registered early childhood educators (RECE). RECEs are recognized as strong, well-educated and qualified professionals. Implementing a wage increase for RECEs would mean that more educators would be drawn to work in the sector and would actually be able to make ECE their life-long career. The NDP’s plan stood out of me the most because, their plan was to immediately begin increasing wages for RECEs to $25/hour - exactly what the AECEO has been calling for through their recommendations.
As a future educator, I want to feel that I am valued as a professional who deserves good working conditions and a wage that is reflective of all the hard work I put into obtaining my professional ECE qualifications.
As a third-year student anticipating to graduate in 2019, I am weary as we now have a provincial government that does not have a well-thought-out plan to support early childhood educators. I feel that, like all ECEs, I deserve a good job in the sector that supports me as a professional.
Interning at the AECEO this summer really inspired me to advocate twice as hard to make a difference in our sector by talking about the importance of universal child care and the value of RECEs.
There are so many ways that you can get involved in making a change in our sector: become a member of the AECEO, get involved with our local teams, or start your own community practices to make sure that all educator voices are heard by government!