Moncton — The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity welcomes the five-year agreement between the provincial and federal governments to reduce parent fees to $10 per day and to increase the wages of early childhood educators by 25 per cent.
This is a transformative agreement for New Brunswick women and parents. We have advocated for accessible, affordable and inclusive child care for decades. This is essential to women’s full participation in the workforce and hence their financial independence.
The agreement includes a 25 per cent wage increase to reach $23.47 on a wage scale over five years for early childhood educators. The wage increase for the sector’s predominantly female workforce is a positive development. However, reaching pay equity is imperative to ensure that this work is fairly compensated and valued. We are calling on the provincial government to conduct a job evaluation to ensure that wages reach pay equity when compared to male-dominated jobs of equal value. Quality services depend on quality jobs.
In addition to reducing fees to $10 per day within five years, the agreement aims to create 5,700 spaces. The federal government has stated in its Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care Plan that it is committed to expanding the number of spaces in the non-profit sector. However, the signed agreement states that some of the expansion will take place in the for-profit sector.
If quality and access are to be improved, especially in rural communities, we must plan for greater expansion of services in the non-profit sector. By continuing to expand services in the private sector, we limit our ability to build a truly universal system. This impedes equitable access to services, as the private-sector employer determines when and where to develop or close services.
Studies show that child care in the non-profit sector is of higher quality when considering factors such as wages, working conditions, training, staff turnover, regulatory compliance, ratios and parental fees.
For the next steps, we advise the government to consult with all stakeholders, not just employers, as it implements the agreement. Child care serves the public; it can and should be part of the social infrastructure of the province.
Krysta Cowling is the chair of the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity. The New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity is a group of individuals and organizations that pursues and ensures the realization of the right to pay equity and to just conditions of work for women. To that end, the Coalition engages in communication, education, research, advocacy for the adoption and the implementation of adequate legislation, as well as public policy dialogue and development.
Pay equity is equal pay for work of equal value. To achieve pay equity, the value of female-dominated jobs must be compared to the value of male-dominated jobs.