Minister's comments draw attention

Dave Bartlett
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Childcare worker says wage supplement should keep going directly to employees

An early childhood educator (ECE) with more than 30 years' experience is concerned Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Joan Burke is considering changes to the way a subsidy is paid to accredited workers in her field.

On June 16 in the House of Assembly, Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones asked Burke a number of questions about a shortage of daycare workers.

Early childhood educator (ECE) Suzann Hanames is concerned that the government may change the way new ECE's receive a subsidy. She says the subsidy should continue to go directly to the educator and not through the daycare centre where they work. Photo b

An early childhood educator (ECE) with more than 30 years' experience is concerned Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Joan Burke is considering changes to the way a subsidy is paid to accredited workers in her field.

On June 16 in the House of Assembly, Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones asked Burke a number of questions about a shortage of daycare workers.

During one of her answers, Burke said she had met with the association representing daycare owners, which gave her a number of recommendations to consider. One was to change the way qualified workers receive the up to $6,660 subsidy to their income.

"(The association) felt that the supplement should go to the child-care centres as opposed to the workers, and that they would then pay the workers the supplement," Burke told the House at the time.

But Suzann Hanames told The Telegram that Burke shouldn't even consider giving the money to the centres.

"Early childhood educators don't get paid that much money anyway, and the supplement was put out for them to have more pay, so why would it go to the centres as opposed to the educators?" she asked.

"Why do they need to get it?" Hanames said. "If the government is already giving it to the individuals, why do you need to give it to the centres and the centres give it to the staff? There's no need to change what's happening."

Hanames worries if the centres get the money first, the reason for the subsidy - to help recruit and retain qualified ECEs - will be ineffective.

The supplement is an incentive for Level 1 workers - those without an ECE certificate - to become certified through a college program.

Hanames said there are already enough problems with people not receiving the supplements. She said workers don't get the extra cash when they are off on parental leave, or if they don't work directly with children, such as if they prepare food in the kitchen.

Jones also has some issues with the way the subsidy is paid out.

"We're estimating, out of the 1,600 (childcare workers) in the province that would be certified ... there's less than 500 who receive (the supplement)," Jones said.

She said some of the 172 licensed daycares have been forced to close some of the 5,600 daycare spaces due to a lack of workers. Most recent recruits are Level 1 staff with no background or certification in ECE.

But she said others, who have an education degree to teach kindergarten and higher grades, also don't qualify for the supplement without the extra college course.

The Liberal leader said she would like to see the supplement replaced with an operating grant for the daycare centres so all workers qualify for higher wages.

"You let (operators) use it as part of their salary package, so instead of advertising a position for $11 an hour, maybe (then) they could advertise at $13 an hour, or $15 an hour," Jones said.

She said that might help solve the worker shortage.

Jones said if the government starts paying the supplement to the centres, an accountability mechanism to make sure the workers get the money has to be put in place.

But she added there's no advantage to daycare owners to hold the money, as they are the ones desperate for workers to ensure the viability of their businesses.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael agrees with Jones when it comes to accountability for the money.

"I have no problem with the subsidy going to the agency," she said. "I do have a problem if government doesn't monitor to make sure that the workers benefit from (the subsidy).

"The potential for operators to use (the money) for other things is there."

Michael said homecare agencies get a similar supplement for their workers, and the government doesn't monitor where it goes.

She said there were complaints from some homecare workers a few years ago, but since then the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) has been successful in unionizing more homecare workers.

Michael's idea for fixing the problem with the supplements for daycare workers is for the province to create a full, public daycare system in the province.

The minister wasn't available for an interview, but in an e-mailed statement, Burke said changing the current way the supplement is paid means restructuring the system.

"Accountability measures would need to be put in place and a system of monitoring would need to be developed," Burke said. "We are open to discussing any improvement options."

But Burke said the province's "primary concern is that there is no negative impact on ECE professionals."

"We will certainly include (the workers) in discussions on the assessment of any changes proposed on this issue."

An official with Burke's department noted that both Child, Youth and Family Services and the Department of Education are about to embark on studies to improve early childhood education in the province.

Organizations: Youth and Family Services, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, Department of Education

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Recent comments

  • Sea-Dog
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    leave it to Joan Burke.... first the university now this, why cant this woman do the honorable thing and resign. Come on Joan and do us all a favour and find some other line of work, PLEASE

  • 2centsworth
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    am hoping futureECE from NL is not teaching grammar to those preschoolers-geeesh

  • Michelle
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    As an ECE for the past 24 years, I totally agree with the comments of Ms. Hanames. There is not enough incentive to encourage people today to stay in this field. Most people in this field are living just above the poverty line. ECE's are expected to have 30 hours professional development every three years in order to maintain their certification as a professional early childhood educator. Taking monies away that we/they deserve and depend on doesn't seem to be the answer to me, at this point. Salaries should be increased regardless. Early Childhood is the most important years in a child's life, this is when they are most vunerable and dependant on the adult in their life. Therefore their salary should reflect this level of responsibility.

  • Marie
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I am an Early Childhood Educator who has been in the field for 15 years. When I opened the paper this morning, I was shocked and angry that the government would even consider such an action as giving our well earned money to the childcare centres instead of us, ECE's! Please really think about what this action will do in this field. You have a shortage now, just wait and see! There will be alot of excellent, qualified ECE's who will leave the field. They complain now that daycares are closing down because of money! If you give the money to the daycares to give to the staff, they will be complaining the daycares are shutting down because of no staff. There is alot of centres out there who do not have benefits for their staff. If a staff is sick, they don't get paid for that day. No pay is less money that they have to pay their bills. We are barely making ends meet now, we won't survive! That income that the government gives to each individual ECE helps us because we know if we are sick a day here or there ( keeping with hours needed), we still have that little bit to help us get to the next pay check. You do not penalize for being sick! Please if you have any decency, don't take it away from us, ECE's! Giving it to the ECE's individuallly is an incentive for others who are interested in this field to apply, but giving to the centres is an incentive to drive them away!

  • Doug
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I can never understand why people complain about wages before they even start the job. If the wage is so disgusting, why study to do it. Same as nurses. They interviewed nursing students a couple of years back, and all they could say was how terrible the pay was going o be. WHY DO IT THEN!!!!!!!

  • Mom of 3
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I agree that Early Childhood Educators should receive a fair salary. I am not sure what you what you mean by notting ; did you mean nothing ?

  • Christine
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Are saying here that every person who works for 11.00$ an hour should be subsidised by government?? Well that would be great for Min wage earners if Gov will supplement them too. Not sure what the real issue is here!! Five hundred workers X 6,600.00 = 330,000. Maybe we should be offering something to the parent's' to stay at home if in Min wage jobs. $1200.00 a month to the Mom or Dad who stays at home!!

    July 20, 2010 - 13:02


  • Parent
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    @ futureECE - Please do not become an ECE. Obvioulsy your superior talents will be wasted. Notting you can do to help the chlidren spts in daycare.

  • Not a Tucker
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    If the current ECE subsidy is redirected to the daycare centres, what would be the incentive for hiring better-educated child-care workers? They could just as easily hire workers with the barest education - and based on Jones' assessment, that's exactly what they'd do.

    IMHO: Child care workers should be treated like teachers in K-12, with the expectation of the same level of education/training. Parents who want extra care can pay extra, just like private school for kids aged 5+.

  • futureECE
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I will be an ECE within the next two years. Our pay wage is disgusting. We are the ones taking care of people precious children and we get notting from it. Parents pay a fortune to put they children in daycares, but ECES see almost notting of it. They wonder why there is a shortage of children spots in daycares, its because ECES are not getting paid enough. This subisty was suppose to be an incentive to become an ECE, now take it away and throw into the centres. Thats a load of bullshit, the centres get enough as it is. Start rewarding the people who deserve it, and they are the ones taking care of your children.

  • Jason
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    futureECE...I hope you will not be one of my childern's ECE.

    notting = nothing
    its = It's
    subisty = subsidy
    put they children = put their children
    Thats = That's

    and to use the bullshit word, I don't think I'd like you around my kids

  • Donna
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    As a person holding a diploma in Early Childhood Education for the past twenty one years, I was flabbergasted (gobsmacked) by the remarks in The Telegram by Joan Burke, as well as those by Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones. This subsidy, they speak about making changes to is the reason I decided to return to my much loved field. Upon graduating from CONA, I was making $10.00 an hour, this was high in comparison to what other centre's were paying at the time. After having my second child I decided to stay home, as it was not finanically possible to pay for child care for my own children and make a living as well. Over the ten years at home I applied for positions in my field and was interviewed on several occasions, only to find the offered salary was the same as ten years previous and in several instances even less. It was when the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador realized the value of our profession by providing a monetary incentive, did I again seek work in my field. Several of my first interviews , (as advertised in the paper), listed the salary for the position,however, upon being interviewed I was to learn this was not the salary being offered by the employer but also included the Govenment incentive subsidy.
    I guess the big question is, DO WE WANT QUALIFIED EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS TEACHING OUR YOUNG CHILDREN OR NOT? As a mother and Early Childhood Educator I think we need to keep the standards as they are, and this means continuing to offer the subsidy incentive to INDIVIDUALS to ensure a high quality of staff in the field.

  • Mindy
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I retired from Childcare the same year the subsidy came into effect. Because I was short 20 hours that year I did not recieve the subsidy. The many years I worked for a low wage did not make a difference. So it does not surprise me that they are trying to make changes again.

    Do not give it to the employer give it directly to the worker, the person on the floor with hands on expereience and the passion for the job.

    You sure do not take an ECE course to get rich .. you do it cause it is a passion. If you want to make a decent living choose another careet.

  • Chris
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Coincidentally, we have a somewhat similar issue in Quebec. The following is the title and first sentence of an article published by the Montreal Gazette:

    Daycare workers plan strike

    By MONIQUE MUISE, The Gazette July 4, 2010

    Home daycare workers in Quebec will hold a two-hour strike Monday morning to protest what they call unacceptable delays in their contract negotiations.

    Read more:

  • Livid
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    So, Yvonne Jones asks a series of questions regarding the 'shortage of daycare workers' to Minister Joan Burke. And Minister Burke's response is to possibly change the way the supplement is given out by handing it over to the centres to dispurse?

    Does she not realize the REASON for 'shortage of daycare workers' is due to the fact that we are underpaid terribly! This supplement that we receive is an added incentive to try and lure in potential ECE's and KEEP the ones already set in place. Allowing the centres to take control of the supplement money will only cause havoc to this profession. The majority of workers will not see any of this supplement money because their centre will keep it to use at their own discretion. And you can say that the government would have to set some kind of monitoring system up to ensure that the money DOES go to the ECE's but seriously, how long will that last for??

    Thinking that by enabling the centres to handle this money to increase wages and advertise salarys from $11 to $13 a hour in order to draw in more ECE's is absolute LUDICROUS. With this extra TAXED money I receive every 3 months (or longer) I know increases my hourly wage by about $3. Not a whole lot when you've got student loans coming out of your ears and other bills besides.

    You want to KEEP as many ECE's in the field, not lose more. Don't be stupid Minister Burke and keep the supplement distribution as is!

  • ECE
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    The current system is working for certified ECE'S. Every quarter you apply and the supplement is paid out within a specified time frame. Why re-invent a wheel that is not broken? Why would they even consider having a middleman?Really, if government has some extra revenue to spend they could consider increasing the supplement rather than changing the way they pay it out.

  • Question
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    To future ECE
    I hope you are better at taking care of children than you are at spelling and writing, and that you don't speak as poorly as you write. However, I agree that qualified people who take care of children should be generously paid for this most important undertaking.

  • gary
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Minister Joan Burke ;
    Keep the the funds going to the ECE's... If you send them to the operators then you know darn well the ECE's will not get it all.... You have some very good operators that will give it to them, but also you have the McDonald's of daycares (3-4 / per owner) that will only see this as a way to further make more money.
    Yvonne Jones ;
    Time for you to get back to reality... Oh, you know the operators will give the ECS's a $2 raise because of the money they will receive. If the daycare has All Level 3 ECE's (NOW that is a laugh) and 10 ECE's the operator will receive around $15,000 every 3 months. You do the math.... Can you say VACATION for the operator, cause you know the ECE's will not get it all, and most likely they will not use this money for the raises. Just up the childcare fee's to offset the new wage increase...
    JUST MY 2 CENTS !!!!

  • Concerned for ECEs
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Wow, just what the child care industry needs, more public dollars put into the operating budgets of private owners. There is a reason the wage supplement goes directly to the Early Childhood Educators. To ensure they receive it! To create the potential for abuse of public funds is ludicrous. Private owners continuously rant and rave about the lack of money in child care and how they financially suffer for the betterment of children. Their business skills are questionable!! After all, if operating a child care centre is so financially draining, then why open a second centre, and a third centre, and a forth centre, and so and so on. Didnt they learn the first time? The supplement can be used as part of the salary package no matter where it comes from. Centers can and do advertise their payable wage plus the eligibility of the wage supplement from the province. When Centers do it honestly, it works! What doesnt work is when owners are dishonest. Advertising $13.00 or $14.00 per hours is attractive for Early Childhood Educators when they are entitled to the additional supplement, but then they find out that the employer is only paying minimal wage. The remaining dollars are actually from the supplement! How will giving the money directly to owners increase the number of trained Early Childhood Educators? What it will do is encourage private owners to continue to hire untrained staff and pay them at a lower wage and pocket the difference. Training is the key to quality care and as long as trained Early Childhood Educators are treated less than professional then there will be a shortage in the field. We need to hear from more Early Childhood Educators on this topic. Other than the paperwork process, Im sure they would prefer to continue receiving the supplement from the province rather than risk reductions from their employers.

    Concerned For our Early Childhood Educators

  • Chuck
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    It makes absolutely no sense that government would even consider giving the subsidy directly to the daycares as opposed to the employees of the daycares. I bet more than half of the employees would never see the subsidy if government makes that change. Owners of daycares could advertise their jobs at 13$ hourly or whatever amount, and just include a note stating that the amount includes the subsidy from government. Get a clue Minister Burke!

  • Mary
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Minister Burke should get feedback from the Early Childhood Educators in the field and see what they think of changing how the subsidy is paid out!!!