'Government needs to step forward with a comprehensive plan to ensure that quality care and education for our young children is here now and in the future.' - Shelley Ward.
Charlottetown (28 Sept. 2009) - The P.E.I. Union of Public Sector Employees (PEIUPSE/NUPGE) says the province must do more to ensure that the early childhood education system on Prince Edward Island is sustainable.
Union president Shelley Ward says early childhood centres require at least two certified instructors to operate and, with many instructors leaving to teach kindergarten in 2010, there is a danger that some centres could close.
"The government erred when it failed to include the early learning sector in its comprehensive review of kindergarten," Ward says.
"Kindergarten and early childhood education were part of the same package. Reviewing kindergarten in isolation from early learning on Prince Edward Island was an oversight that is becoming more apparent every day," she adds.
"Early childhood centres require at least two certified early learning instructors to keep their doors open. The government's realization of this comes late in the game. They are now funding an accelerated program for early childhood education diplomas in the hopes of preventing closures. However, this is not enough. Government needs to step forward with a comprehensive plan to ensure that quality care and education for our young children is here now and in the future."
Ward says Island families need to know that the provincial government will provide the necessary funding to keep early childhood centres open.
"This means making a commitment to Islanders that the $3 million in federal funding for early childhood development will not be redirected to help cover the $5 million price tag for implementing kindergarten," she says.
"It means ensuring a wage subsidy is in place so that certified instructors will earn more than minimum wage and that non-certified staff will have an incentive to complete their accelerated diploma in early childhood care and education. Finally, it means continuing to lobby the federal government to institute a national child care program."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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