Letters to the editor -
Recently, your newspaper reported on a conversation in the legislature between Youth and Family Services Minister Joan Burke and Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones about wage supplements for childcare workers ("Lack of daycare spaces at 'crisis level,' say Liberals," June 17).
The minister alluded to a suggestion from centre owners that the current system of providing those subsidies directly to the workers should be changed so the operators would receive the money.
As the union representing child-care workers at two St. John's centres, we would suggest that the current model is working well and should not be changed.
CUPE, which represents staff at Daybreak Parent Child Centre (Local 3017) and MUN Campus Childcare (Local 4554-01), is wondering why the funder would want to re-invent the wheel on something that is working quite well.
In recent years, there was a confidential review carried out on the wage supplement and, before government makes changes, they should again hold confidential consultations with those who receive the supplements to see what they think about possible changes in delivery.
The current process involves certified ECEs making quarterly applications, with the employer having to verify and sign off on the hours worked.
Payments are then made on a quarterly basis. As the largest child-care union in Canada, we know that in other provinces there has been much concern over delivery of the monies when it has gone through the employers.
In fact, the growing trend across the country is to extend early learning programs within education departments, where funding is stable and wages are relatively high.
In part, this is to address the need for such public services and in part this to address the dire recruitment and retention problems in the sector. In short, governments across the country are struggling to keep workers in this sector.
In some provinces, a percentage of monies intended for ECEs has been withheld by the employer as an administrative fee and in other cases withheld to go towards professional development at the employers' discretion.
While no one is suggesting that would happen in Newfoundland and Labrador, there are lessons here to be learned.
CUPE national representative