October 5th, 2022
Honourable Stephen Lecce
Ministry of Education
315 Front Street West, 14th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 0B8
RE: CHILDCARE CRISIS OPEN LETTER
Dear Minister Lecce,
Of all provincial government responsibilities, child protection, health and education are among the highest priorities. Even so, a crisis is brewing here in Ontario, growing at an alarming rate. Its effects will be both far-reaching and devasting to young families and detrimental to Ontario’s businesses and overall economic health.
Childcare centres keep children safe and healthy so parents can go to work to provide food and shelter with peace of mind. Professionally trained childcare staff have a profound effect on overall child development. In addition, childcare centres offer opportunities for social, emotional and communication skills. Such skills are essential for the success of not only the child but also for the success of Ontario for generations to come.
Childcare centres are experiencing a crippling staff shortage that grows daily. The shortage is forcing centres to close their doors, thus leaving parents to face unavoidable and heart-wrenching decisions and hardship. In my riding of Algoma-Manitoulin, I have heard from childcare centre employers, workers, and parents.
Centres cannot compete with Early Childcare Workers’ (ECE) wages paid by school boards. It is important to note that the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care fully supports calls for improving wages and working conditions for ECE and childcare workers. The Federal and Provincial governments announced the negotiated $10 per day childcare agreement with great fanfare. But the reality is that, given their funding, childcare centres cannot retain workers to meet the demand. This also means parents cannot work and earn the money they need to make ends meet, with the cost of living being at an all-time high.
I received one such letter from a childcare centre operating in Dubreuilville. They lost four staff members within a week. Chrystal Morden, the centre’s Executive Director, wrote to me, saying, “We have heard that employers in this community are now losing their employees due to the lack of childcare services.”
Another example can be found in the Manitoulin Expositor September 14th, 2022, issue. The article described similar complaints from the facility operated by Andrea Lewis in the Assiginack Public School building. Ms. Lewis stated that they have had to shut down because it doesn’t have enough workers to operate safely.
Minister Lecce, these are only two examples. And unfortunately, I have plenty more I could share. I urge you to take action to end this crisis and give our workers fair pay so that our children can thrive, and parents can return to work. This cannot wait; the government needs to step up to the plate and recognize that our childcare workers deserve better.