Canada’s Children Need a Professional Early Childhood Education Workforce
Canada's child care workforce needs a bill of rights embedded in pending federal legislation, says a new report released by the researchers at the University of Toronto.
"In the race to lower parent fees and increase access, governments across Canada often overlook the people who provide the care. Yet the success of Canada's emerging early learning and child care system will depend on its workforce," says Dr. Emis Akbari, an author on the report.
"The status of the early childhood education workforce, and the quality of programming where small children spend their days are interdependent," reads the report. "Just as children's environments can support or impede their learning, educators' work environments can promote or hinder educator practices."
For a sector hit hard by COVID, losing up to 21 percent of its staff, backfilling vacant positions takes precedence alongside finding an additional 32,000 educators, plus the support staff needed to meet expansion goals. Yet efforts to attract and retain educators are proving ineffective.
Across the care economy there is a reluctance to recognize that creating and maintaining a professional workforce requires a package of interventions to create inviting working conditions. These include wages and benefits reflecting the value of the work, resources and access to experts to do the job well, and opportunities for ongoing professional learning.
"Few jurisdictions have adopted this comprehensive approach," says Dr. Emis Akbari, one of the report's authors. "Failure to do so will compromise the success of the emerging early learning and child care program."