MPP Jennie Stevens sent the following open letter to Premier Doug Ford urging him to immediately implement $10 A Day Childcare and increase ECE wages, helping to fix child care staff shortages in Niagara.
March 8, 2022
Office of the Premier
Legislative Bldg, Queen's Park,
Dear Premier Ford,
Today, March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day. We celebrate what it means to be a woman, whether in the home or in the workforce, each job is equally rewarding and important. While the role of women in our communities are being celebrated today, it’s crucial we remember the impacts that Ontario’s childcare crisis has on women and their families, and assign all available staff to negotiate a childcare deal to access federal funding to fix Niagara’s staffing crisis and provide families affordable childcare.
In Niagara specifically, we have been experiencing a child care staffing shortage for years. The Niagara Region is predicting a 300 RECE staff shortage in Niagara, which translates into Niagara licensees operating at 51% capacity for full day childcare and 37% capacity for before and after school care.
The reality is that every 9 out of 10 early childhood educator positions are held by women. Despite all the recognition women will receive today, our ECE’s and childcare workers still experience below poverty wages. The average ECE salary in Canada is between $25,000 and $37,000 a year, despite 90% of employees having a post-secondary education. For context, a livable wage in Niagara as of 2021 is $18.90, yet upwards of 42% earn as little as $15 to $20 per hour.
Worker shortages as a result of low wages, directly affects women in the workplace. It’s mothers who are forced to exit the workforce to care for their children at home. It’s mothers who are forced to abandon their careers when monthly childcare costs exceed their monthly wages.
While you acknowledged International Women’s Day on social media, citing your goal to ‘remove barriers for future generations,’ I implore you to follow through with that promise since unaffordable childcare and undervalued jobs within this sector are disenfranchising women.
Remove financial barriers to childcare across Ontario. Remove inaccessibility. Improve wages for all workers caring for our children day to day and invest in childcare capacity to support hiring practices and retain ECE’s. Immediately implementing a $10/day childcare plan is how you show women they are supported as mothers, coworkers, daughters, wives and friends.
My team is ready to support the initiative of fixing Niagara’s childcare staffing crisis and negotiating a deal with the federal government, and I am happy to discuss further in person.
Jennie Stevens, MPP for St. Catharines