Educators Matter

Workforce Policy for Quality Early Learning and Child Care

A three-year project (2023–2026) committed to advancing collective knowledge on Canada’s early learning and child care (ELCC) workforce. The project will develop policy solutions that address the retention and recruitment crisis and support the implementation of a high quality Canada-wide ELCC system as a whole.

A summary of ELCC workforce policies as of December 2023 under the Canada-wide child care system

The paper surveys the “lay of the land” as of December 31 2023, about two and a half years after the first CWELCC funding agreements were signed and provides an overview of all policies currently in operation. 

“Educators Matter: Workforce Policy for Quality Early Learning and Child Care” is a three-year project (2023–2026) committed to advancing collective knowledge on Canada’s early learning and child care (ELCC) workforce. The project will develop policy solutions that address the retention and recruitment crisis and support the implementation of a high quality Canada-wide ELCC system as a whole.

Historically, policies concerning the ELCC workforce have unfolded in a patchwork and reactive fashion. Our project creates space for communities to come together, collaborate and engage in deeper discussions about policy planning and implementation in a systematic way. Together, we can strive towards a comprehensive vision for the ELCC system, accompanied by a long-term plan outlining the workforce’s integral role within this vision.

As part of the project, Child Care Now will convene a new National Early Learning and Child Care Workforce Policy Table, bringing together educators, advocates, and policy experts to create evidence-based policy recommendations grounded in research and community knowledge. The National ELCC Workforce Table will also provide analyses of workforce policy and programs as Canada’s child care system continues to develop. 

The findings of this project will be disseminated through policy briefs, research papers, and public education sessions held in partnership with national and provincial organizations and stakeholders. We will also support the child care advocacy community to advance these policy solutions through their advocacy actions. 

This project spans a three-year period, from 2023 to 2026, which aligns with the first phase of the Canada-wide rollout of $10 a day ELCC programs and the transformation toward a publicly funded system of accessible and equitable ELCC services.

The genesis of “Educators Matter: Workforce Policy for Quality Early Learning and Child Care” project, or “Educators Matter” in short, arose from the need to address the root of the retention and recruitment crisis within Canada’s early learning and child care (ELCC) workforce by bringing together communities and stakeholders to engage in deep, forward thinking about workforce policy. By naming our project “Educators Matter,” Child Care Now acknowledges that early child educators and all of those who work in early learning and child care programs are at the core of a successful expansion of the Canada-wide early learning and child care system.

This project is made possible through funding from a private foundation and made in memory of John and Susanne Graham.  

The project team brings together a wide range of stakeholders in the ELCC sector to identify measures and actions that governments can take at a policy systems-level to ensure:

  • the retention and recruitment of highly qualified early childhood educators, 
  • ongoing professional development, and 
  • positive work environments that support safe, culturally inclusive, stimulating, developmentally appropriate, high quality programs.
  1. Analyzing the current policy landscape
  2. Convening a National Policy Table that brings together educators, advocates, researchers and policy makers from across Canada to share their experiences, existing policy solutions and advocacy strategies
  3. Developing new national policy solutions, build consensus on national workforce strategies and increase collaborative, national, advocacy campaigns 
  4. Strengthening government relations and advancing these policies
  5. Carrying out public education in support of our efforts to convince all levels of government to address the workforce crisis

The Child Care Now workforce project team has been working hard developing the structure for our National Workforce Policy Table, which will begin in January 2024. We have been tracking workforce policy developments across Canada and will be publishing our summary report of ECE workforce policies under the Canada-wide child care system.

Morna Ballantyne

Morna Ballantyne

Executive Director

Now a grandmother, Morna Ballantyne began advocating for more high quality, affordable, inclusive licensed child care when her first child was born. For 40 years, she has worked with others to develop and advance evidence-based public policy options to address systemic barriers to child care access in Canada. She serves as the Executive Director of Child Care Now, Canada’s national child care advocacy association. It brings together individuals and organizations who seek to participate in the building of a high quality, publicly‑funded system of ELCC. She has extensive leadership experience and works professionally as a consultant, strategic planner and facilitator. She has significant subject expertise in social policy, labour relations and human resources, human rights, and strategic communications. Morna served on the Government of Canada’s Task Force on Women in the Economy. She was also a member of the Expert Panel on ELCC Data and Research.

Rachel Vickerson she/her

Policy and Project Manager

Rachel Vickerson is a passionate advocate for inclusive ELCC system change, and is proud to work at Child Care Now during such a pivotal time in Canadian child care. To the role of Policy and Project Manager, she brings her experience working and learning with educators through past positions as the Interim Executive Director at the Association for Early Childhood Educators Ontario, Research Officer at the Childcare Resource and Research Unit and Project Officer at the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, coordinating the National Network on Early Learning and Child Care Human Resources Innovation and Decent Work. Rachel holds a Masters in Public Policy degree from the University of Toronto, and is committed to bringing the voices of educators, families and children into the policymaking process. 

Thơ Nguyễn

Thơ Nguyễn

Policy and Outreach Coordinator

Thơ Nguyễn is a dedicated Registered Early Childhood Educator with experience in both regulated and informal child care settings in Toronto. As a racialized immigrant and settler on Indigenous land, Thơ is committed to challenging policies rooted in colonial ideologies that commodify care and rely on the exploitation of foreign labour for care work. Thơ has worked at the Childcare Resource and Research Unit and the Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario on various projects focused on Canada-wide ELCC governance, public delivery, equitable access, and anti-racism within the ELCC sector. Thơ is the co-lead of the Early Years Rise Up TO, a Toronto-based community of practice advocating for decent work in ELCC. Additionally, Thơ serves on the Advisory Council of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.

Marni Flaherty

Marni Flaherty

Interim Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Child Care Federation

Marni Flaherty is the Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Child Care Federation. CCCF, supporting an ECE community united for children, is a diverse community of educators, policy makers, and families committed to giving the children of today the headstart they need tomorrow. Marni is the former C.E.O. of Today’s Family Early Learning and Child Care, a child care agency currently serving 6,000 families in Hamilton, Halton, Haldimand Norfolk and Oxford  County and employing more than 400 Early Childhood Educators, support staff and licensed home child care providers.

Lynell Anderson

Lynell Anderson

Child Care Public Policy Researcher and Advocate, Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC

Lynell Anderson, CPA, CGA draws on 40 years of experience as a professional accountant in the private, public, voluntary and academic sectors, building expertise in analyzing and utilizing financial information to promote public accountability, engage communities and advocate for evidence-informed change. Currently, Lynell co-leads BC’s $10aDay Child Care Campaign, providing research, analytical and strategic leadership to the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and working collaboratively with a range of organizations Canada-wide.  She is also a research associate with the CCPA-BC and past Co-Chair of the Vancouver Joint Child Care Council.

Chris Smith

Christopher Smith

Associate Executive Director, Muttart Foundation

Christopher Smith, Ph.D., is the Associate Executive Director for the Muttart Foundation, a private charitable foundation based in Edmonton. He has lead responsibility for the Foundation’s work in the area of ELCC. Christopher is a member of the National Advisory Council on Early Learning and Child Care, serves on the Steering Committee for the Community University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth and Families at the University of Alberta, and is a member of the Edmonton Council for Early Learning and Care. He formerly served as a member of the Expert Panel on ELCC Data and Research, and was the former chair of the Success by 6 Council of Partners for the Alberta Capital Region.

Jane Beach

Jane Beach

Independent policy researcher

Jane Beach is an early childhood education and care (ECEC) research and policy consultant, based in Victoria, British Columbia. Over the past 25 years, Jane’s consulting work has ranged from large-scale national and international studies on various aspects of child care policy to local child care planning and organizational reviews. She has been co-lead for several pan-Canadian initiatives focused on human resources in the ECEC sector, including two ECEC sector studies, the development of a training strategy for the early childhood sector, a study on the various pathways to ECE credentialing across the country, a study of emerging issues in child care, and the You Bet We Still Care! Canada-wide survey of wages and working conditions of staff and employers working in licensed group care. Prior to her work as a policy and research consultant, Jane worked on ECEC in two provincial governments, in municipal government, and in the voluntary and private sectors.

Martha Friendly

Martha Friendly

Executive Director, Childcare Resources and Research Unit

Martha Friendly is the executive director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, which she founded in the 1980s. She has been a policy researcher and advocate for a Canada-wide universal childcare program for more than 40 years with substantial expertise in childcare and family policy, publishing extensively in academic, technical and popular venues. A social science researcher by education, she was a researcher on the US Head Start program in the 1960s. After immigrating to Canada in 1971 and becoming a parent at the York University Co-operative Child Care Centre, childcare became a personal avocation as well as a key feminist issue. Ever since, Martha has been a childcare policy researcher and a persistent activist in the struggle for universal high quality childcare—locally, provincially and Canada-wide. Her two biggest thrills in the last 10 years: becoming a grandmother of twin boys (who were lucky enough to go to excellent public child care in Toronto), and still being part of the Canadian child care movement when the federal government finally began to put in place the childcare system for which we’ve been advocating for 50 years.

Alana Powell

Alana Powell

Executive Director, Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario

Alana Powell is a registered ECE, mother, and advocate. She believes we can create a Canada-wide ELCC system that responds to the needs and hopes of all children, families, educators and our communities. Alana is currently the Executive Director of the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario. She completed her Master of Arts in Early Childhood Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University. Alana continues to engage in research where she thinks with ethics of care in early childhood policy, practice, and advocacy. Across all her work, Alana is committed to listening to and advancing the voices, experiences, needs, ideas, and hopes of ECEs, as they are the heart of meaningful caring and pedagogical experiences in ELCC.