Quebec’s government-subsidized not-for-profit child care centres (known as “centres de la petite enfance”, or CPEs) were closed down for four days after Thanksgiving when employees took strike action in support of their demands for fair wages. Their union called on the Quebec government to use some of the federal government’s $6 billion child care funding transfer to the province to address the very low wages in the sector which are causing a major shortage of qualified staff.
The provincial government has announced new CPEs and child care spaces across Quebec. Meanwhile, early childhood educators exhausted by the pandemic and under-staffing are calling for better recognition, pay, and working conditions.
Contract negotiations between unionized child care sector employees, their CPE employers and the provincial government resumed this fall. Child care employees have backed up their demands with a variety of actions, and parents have also been mobilizing for wage increases. For example, parents shared messages of support on social media thanking the educators who make it possible for parents to work.
In early October home-based child care providers reached a deal with the province that will increase government financial support per child by approximately 30% over 2019 rates. This subsidy is paid directly to the licensed home child care providers and supplements the $8.50/day parent fee. Licensed home child care providers unionized in 2008.
The unions representing staff at CPEs are demanding better wages for all job classifications in child care centres (qualified, un-qualified and support staff), better support for children with special needs, and they want concerns with mandatory overtime to be addressed.
Quebec’s child care wage scales reflect the qualifications and years of experience of staff, and the wage rates apply across the province to all non-profit child care settings. The establishment of wage scales is an important requirement set out in the recent federal child care funding agreements signed to date by seven provinces and Yukon Territory.