Medical Benefits - Early Childhood Educators

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has announced a new medical benefits program for early childhood educators working in regulated child care services participating in the Operating Grant Program.

The new medical benefits program will launch in fall 2024 and will be managed by the Association of Early Childhood Educators Newfoundland and Labrador (AECENL). The benefits will be optional and available to those who have worked for at least three months at a regulated child care service participating in the Operating Grant Program. Eligible workers include: Early childhood educators, trainee early childhood educators, other staff working in child care services and regulated family child care providers.

Nearly 1,600 child care workers across the province are expected to gain access to medical benefits through this initiative.

Although specific details on coverage have yet to be announced, advocates are praising this step as a significant improvement in access to healthcare for many early childhood educators and child care workers. 

This initiative is crucial for retention, as 62% of early childhood educators in Newfoundland and Labrador feel they might have to leave the profession to secure benefits, according to a recent survey by the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, the Jimmy Pratt Foundation, and the Workers’ Action Network NL.

“There is no greater feeling than knowing you are appreciated. We welcome this week’s announcement by Minister Howell, especially during ECE Week. ECEs province-wide welcome the introduction of medical benefits, which we have been seeking for so long,” said Patrice Gordon, an early childhood educator and member of the Child Care Now-NL Steering Committee.

The AECENL will focus on securing a plan that provides the best benefits for staff, aiming to provide relief to current workers and attract more individuals to the child care sector. The government plans to have everything operational by fall 2024.

The annual cost for the new benefit plan is estimated at over $1.8 million, and will be federally-funded through the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.