Thursday, June 25, 2020

Is Universal Childcare what is 'best' for Ontario?

With all that is going on with Covid there is a huge push to 'unionize' and ECE Unite childcare by a few in the sector! I am in camp be careful what you wish for! There is a reason why there is not a strong union presence in the childcare sector over the past what 60 plus year since the development of the first Day Nursery Act regulating our industry - childcare is one of the oldest professions in the world even more it was 'regulated' and one that could actually use the collective bargaining power more than auto workers when it comes to protections yet unions went there the actual money was!
Typically it is not a wise 'business investment' for them and please do not be naive a Union is a BUSINESS - it charges members dues in exchange for a service that is a business and if the dues do not cover the cost of service that would be needed to effect change than there is no point in them continuing to provide the service but you could end up still stuck paying the dues to how difficult it is to break a union once it gets a foot in the door . That is why so many unionized childcares over the past decades have CLOSED because the employer could not provide what the union was demanding - we have seen so many well paying positions evaporate as college lab schools got closed and as 'regional operated' childcare centres were closed and the off loaded childcare to 'community partners'.

The challenge for our sector is NOT our employers and that is the only level that unions have the power to negotiate with - they collectively bargain with your employer .... also currently your 'collective bargaining' in a union would be the voices of the employees at that individual centre or if you work for a 'chain' of centres all operated by the same person than you could have a slightly larger collective voice but it is still going to be SMALL and therefore largely ineffective ...the fact is that you cannot get blood from a stone and the reason our wages are so low is that unlike auto industry there is no PROFIT in childcare sector to suck out of a business owner to raise wages and benefits and pensions out of and unlike TEACHERS our wages are reflective of the fees for service charged to individual parents not the collective tax payers! If parents had to pay out of their individual pocket for 'education' than the reality is that there would be a huge influx of one parent leaving the work force and HOME SCHOOLING because they would not be able to afford to pay for education - same goes for childcare. If the cost of childcare is MORE than a parent can hope to earn than there becomes no need for 'childcare' they will just remain home and provide it themselves!

In the current model of childcare in Ontario unionization will not produce the results ECE want like the College you will end up paying for something that in reality does not serve YOU it just serves someone else - so at a 2% of your wages due rate even if you only made $28,000 which is minimum wage now you will find yourself paying $560 or more if you make more annually in union dues with little more 'protections' than you have under the Employment Standards Act already because the cold hard reality of our field is that our employers do not offer us more because they are rolling in profits they have a limited revenue of fees capped by their license to balance their budget with ... the only reason why 'non profits' pay more than private sector is that non profits get more FUNDING from the government in way of operating grants, more wage enhacement grant and if they are non profit they often have chartible status so can access 'reductions/discounts' in rent, phone, tax prep and other overhead costs that a 'private' model can not ... we need to stop being naive there is no PROFIT in childcare - if there were there would actually be businesses rising to meet the demand - beside every Tim Hortons there would be a private childcare to match 'raking in the profits' ... the reason there is shortage of childcare is that no one wants to invest the time, energy and money into opening childcare - non profits cannot find people who want to 'volunteer' to do that hard work and private business can make AN ACTUAL profit for similar investment opening a TIM HORTONS which is why there is one of those on every corner instead!

If ECE want to see change IMO they should first join the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario (AECEO) for a far more reasonable fee of $60 .... as a professional association they can provide the collective voice of 50,000 ECE who are registered with the College of ECE and any who do not have to be to push government for UNIVERSAL childcare model where the GOVERNMENT becomes the employer of all ECE just like TEACHERS ... and THAN you can look to all unionize under the collective employer of the government and the collective pockets of ALL TAX PAYERS to bare the burden of increased wages and resources for ECE professionals.

IMO the AECEO can provide a much larger collective voice than 'individual centres' who manage to get a union into them and for FAR LESS investment from the ECE!

Start THERE is you want to actually see change ... the AECEO could do so much more than they already do if every ECE registered with the College also joined the AECEO .... their budget to advocate and increase their lobby reach of the government could be truly profound .... their current paid membership is so LOW and they already do more for ECE imagine what they could do with better resources!

Nothing will change in the licensed childcare sector under the current model of 'market can bare' fee collection! That is what changed FIRST for teachers too - the move from private education to public. If we want what teachers have we need to follow that same path - create a public universal childcare model and THAN form the unions under that!

even with universal childcare - we need to be careful what we wish for here in Ontario because we are not doing such a good job in public education the answer so shortage in funding from our leaders regardless of their political affiliation when they are in power they always seem to choose to cram more children into smaller spaces or to take away supports in some manner while the 'middleman bureaucracy' constantly grows and outpaces the frontline support .... so if to fund public education we need to see ratios of 1:20 ore more pupils imagine what the ration for childcare could erode too

Take Spain ratio for infants is 1:8 .... we need to be careful what we wish for because THAT could be our future - free or greatly reduced childcare cost for parents at the expense of QUALITY

Be careful what you advocate for - you might get more than you bargained for!

Take Care

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