Q&A on Child Care
The NDP PEI has promised an immediate pay increase for Early Childhood Educators of $7 per hour. Per this commitment:
Do you intend to include Inclusion Support Assistants in your proposed wage increase?
Yes, these increases will require a review of the Special Needs Grant program administered by the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture.
Does your proposed wage increase include educators working at non-designated (private) centres? If not, how does your party plan to offset the negative impact this will have on private centres?
Yes, the PEI NDP proposes that the $7 increase will also apply to educators working at non-designated centres as long as the Centre conforms with specific conditions regarding quality of service and working conditions and is currently paying their staff according to the wage grid applied in designated centres.
How does your party propose to make quality child care affordable for all families regardless of centre designation?
The PEI NDP has looked at models of childcare delivery in Quebec and British Columbia and is exploring a model of a flat rate charge per day such as $15 a day. Studies indicate that while such programs are expensive they have enormous impact on the numbers of women joining the workforce and on the vibrancy of the economy as a whole. This type of program requires direct government subsidies to the Centres. We envisage these subsidies being available to non-profit or publicly run centres, to some family-based caregivers and to for-private centres which conform to specific conditions.
As the introduction of such a program will take time (in British Columbia the program is being rolled out gradually - through pilot projects to begin with) the PEI NDP will immediately raise the threshold for eligibility for a child care subsidy and increase the amount of the subsidies available while the flat rate charge program is being developed.
What is your party’s plan to increase families’ access to licensed Early Learning and Child Care?
A PEI NDP government will encourage the development of a more public childcare system which may be delivered in partnership with groups such as community centres, academic institutions, community organizations, service clubs, churches or local non-profit citizens’ groups. A PEI NDP government will also partner with municipalities to create non-profit centres.
We will support citizens’ groups which wish to form a non-profit cooperative to create a child care centre through a Department of Cooperative and Community Economic Development.
Is the NDP PEI committed to implementing a workforce strategy to support the needed growth of the Early Learning and Child Care sector?
Yes. Clearly we will not be able to expand the numbers of quality child-care spaces without the trained staff to work in them. The Child Care Sector has been overlooked in terms of the vitally important service it provides in our communities and the highly skilled workers which it employs.
The PEI NDP is also committed to:
Raising wages for all workers in the child care sector
Investing in our communities to make them more liveable in order to stem the flow of young workers out of Prince Edward Island by:
Creating a province-wide publicly owned transit system
Creating more affordable housing through investment in public housing and other strategies
Creating affordable and high quality childcare
Ensuring good working conditions in all child care centres by enforcement and monitoring of PEI Employment Standards (including paid breaks, unpaid leave, overtime and paid holidays) in all childcare operations and amending the Employment Standards Act to include provisions such as paid sick days and fair scheduling that workers can depend on and organize their lives around.
Submitted by the NDP PEI
Addressing the crisis both in the availability of affordable childcare to Island families and the working conditions and wages of workers in the sector is a key part of the NDP PEI’s platform in the current provincial election.
We have talked to parents looking for childcare spaces, people working in the sector in PEI, examined models in Quebec and British Columbia, read reports and concluded that building a comprehensive Early Childhood Education system for PEI will be a journey, not an event, which requires a clear long-term vision matched by sustained, adequate public funding.
The NDP PEI believes in publicly funded, universal, high-quality and affordable public and non-profit childcare services that meet the needs of all parents, including parents who:
work irregular and/or part-time hours
are employed on a seasonal basis
require care for infants
have children with disabilities
live in rural areas of the province
As the 2008 UNICEF report card on ECEC notes:
“Overall there would seem to be strong arguments for focusing public policy and public funding on diversely delivered but universally available early childhood services funded and supervised by governmental agencies. This is the broad strategy that has been adopted by almost all OECD governments in response to the educational needs of older children, and there is no reason in principle to pursue a different strategy for early childhood services (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2008: 10).”
In PEI, today, we have a patch work of private and non-profit child care centres employing hundreds of highly-skilled staff and providing services to thousands of families. The PEI NDP will build sensitively and creatively on our existing infrastructure in order to ensure continuity for everyone in the sector.