How we can support care workers fighting for just conditions

Child Care Network Training 2017
Child Care Network Training, 2017

By Erica Saunders

As a Registered Early Childhood Educator, I know the injustices that care workers face all too well. 

I remember purchasing classroom supplies out of my $14.00 per hour wage because the millionaire owner of my child care centre refused to buy paper and markers.

I remember having to work with pink-eye because I did not have paid sick days.

I remember being told to work with more children than legally allowed and threatened that I would be fired if I refused.

The underpayment, undervaluation, and poor working conditions are an unacceptable attack on care workers that have held up the economy since its inception. 

At the Institute for Change Leaders (ICL), our mission is to lift up communities like those working in the care sector. I found my voice when I wrote the first-ever research study on Early Childhood Educators who work split shifts, and when I started coordinating all the training here at the ICL. 

I understand the impact of empowering those most undervalued by society because I have been empowered.

I would like to see such empowerment spread like wildfire— in the best of ways! This is why I have been asking people to donate to ICL. Even $5 a month goes a long way to helping us reach more people and giving them the skills they need to win better conditions.

Women have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Women have lost employment at higher rates, engaged in more substantive unpaid care work at home, and faced pay gaps compared to their male counterparts. A broken system has been made worse by the pandemic. 

Injustice is not something to silently bear, but to challenge. At ICL, we are reminded of this fact daily, given the largely female base with whom we work.

We have trained female-dominated sectors such as Early Childhood Educators and Personal Support Workers to acknowledge their collective power and have a voice throughout this pandemic and beyond. 

Strong community support will enable us to continue this important work.

The Institute for Change Leaders is brought to you by the Faculty of Community Services at Ryerson University.

Ryerson University