"All families and children deserve access to a seamless system that better supports our educators and addresses the inequities that exist between centres across communities in Nova Scotia.” — Kelly Ann Hamshaw, Executive Director of the Kingstec Campus Learning Centre in Kentville
Halifax (01 Feb. 2019) — The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) released a new report called "Unappreciated and Underpaid:" EArly Child hood Educations in Nova Scotia that provides a snapshot of what it is like for Early Childhood Educators (ECE) to work in the Early Learning and Child Care sector in Nova Scotia. Understanding which factors influence their recruitment and retention is critical because we know high turnover affects the quality of the care provided.
Government doesn't value early childhood education
Early Childhood Educator, Margot Nickerson had this to say, “This report provides evidence of what we have been saying: so many of my fellow ECEs are struggling with wages that do not reflect their education and specialized skills to work with young children. Frankly, these wages leave them struggling to pay for necessities for their own families. Also, the added pressures with the pre-primary roll-out have resulted in a shortage of ECEs. They are burning out.”
“We know that we are appreciated by families in Nova Scotia, but enough is enough. We need our government and the public to understand the toll it is taking as we work so hard to provide the best care possible to the children, with little recognition of what that really entails,” adds Nickerson.
“There is an urgency for our government to rethink its approach to this sector. We cannot afford to lose our highly educated ECEs,” says Christine Saulnier, co-author of the report and Director of CCPA-NS.
Families need seamless system rather than patchwork, temporary solutions
As Saulnier points out, “An outdated wage benchmark leaves our highly educated ECEs as the lowest paid in Canada — earning $16.05 per hour. Indeed, 67 per cent of ECEs who answered our survey felt that their salary does not adequately reflect the work that they do. It is very concerning that 39 per cent of ECEs said that they would not choose the profession — they are likely not encouraging others to do so.”
“The government has focused on developing an early learning curriculum and a framework for quality improvements, which are absolutely needed and commendable. But, employers are left trying to implement changes without adequate operational supports to do so,” says Kelly Ann Hamshaw, Executive Director of the Kingstec Campus Learning Centre in Kentville.
As Hamshaw says, “The government must stop adding to the patchwork of grants and subsidies. All families and children deserve access to a seamless system that better supports our educators and addresses the inequities that exist between centres across communities in Nova Scotia.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE