April 30, 2020
Premier of Ontario sent by e-mail: email@example.com
Minister of Education Hon.Stephen Lecce sent by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
RE: EXPANDING ACCESS TO EMERGENCY CHILD CARE IN ONTARIO
Dear Premier Ford and Minister Lecce,
We are writing to you to voice our support for your decision to include a greater number of workers eligible for the province’s emergency child care funding. We are particularly pleased to see that there is an expanding appreciation in the form of direct support of the essential workers keeping us safe and functioning in these difficult times. Our union wrote to you just ten days ago to express our concerns with the limited number of essential workers who could access the province’s emergency child care services. The expediency with which your government heard and responded to that concern is especially heartening. Our union supports the announcement made yesterday to expand the list of essential workers eligible to access emergency child care in the province.
This announcement recognizes the important role frontline workers are playing in the fight against COVID-19, as well as the essential role that child care plays in supporting the economy and helping our children flourish. Before the pandemic, so many Ontarians were struggling with the high cost of child care and although access to free emergency child care is only temporary, it is certainly a welcome reprieve for the essential workers who are carrying out such important jobs at this incredibly difficult time. The role of child care and the importance of government support are topics that should be high on the government’s agenda as we discuss recovery from the pandemic.
We encourage your government to further expand the list of eligible essential workers to include our province’s public transit workers. Many of the lowest wage earners in our province rely heavily on this valuable public service. Given what we know about single parent-led households and uneven care duties in dual parent households, without access to child care, more women than men will be unable to work due to child care responsibilities, transit workers included.
We also urge the government to not lose sight of supporting the broader needs of the child care workforce. Many educators continue to make little more than minimum wage. This inequality cannot go unaddressed. As well, recent reports of COVID-19 positive child care workers and children have underscored the difficulty of carrying out this work safely. One cannot practice physical distancing while providing care, affection and guidance to young children. The particular needs for sanitization products and extra staff time to carry out this work requires additional funds to emergency child care centres.
There are numerous other challenges this province faces in this pandemic and we urge you to continue to listen to workers voices and work with our union to overcome them now and in the future.
JERRY DIAS NAUREEN RIZVI
NATIONAL PRESIDENT ONTARIO REGIONAL DIRECTOR