Queens Daycare workers seek higher wages

Brittany W.
Brittany W. Verge
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The fight for a “worthy wage” continues for daycare workers in Nova Scotia and that is no different in Queens.

Amber Purdy, director of Queens Daycare, along with daycare workers across the province advocated for fair wages on May 1.  The day was called “Worthy Wage Day.”

“We’ve been doing (Worthy Wage Day) for the past four years, we’re trying to get up to standard with other professionals in the same field or like fields,” says Purdy.

This year as a part of their Worthy Wage Day, the daycare wrote letters to MLA Sterling Belliveau and invited him to have lunch with the staff and children.  Belliveau was unable to attend but sent a representative.  Workers also wore stickers that said “Hello my name is Underpaid”

Purdy says daycare workers are now under the Early Years part of the Department of Education in Nova Scotia.  Daycare workers and Early Childhood Educators were under the Department of Children and Family Services prior to the switch.

Purdy hopes this is a move in the right direction.

“We’re hoping that the people in the education system will look and see that we are way underpaid for what we do, we’re not babysitters, we are early childhood educators,” says Purdy.

Purdy says that the first five years of a child’s life is very important in their development.  She says that their wages do not reflect their responsibilities or their educations.

Most of the workers at Queens Daycare have post-secondary education whether its individual programs, a two-year community college diploma, or a university degree.  Many programs include unpaid practicums to be done in daycares as well.

“Almost all of my staff are trained in some area, a couple aren’t but under regulations they have to take a program for three months so they can work in the field of early childhood education,” says Purdy.

Despite their educations most of the workers at the daycare make just under $12 an hour.  Purdy is at the top of the pay scale as director and also as an Early Childhood Educator within the classrooms and her wages come to $15 per hour.

Purdy says their training and educations are similar to other positions in the education system but those positions such as Teachers Assistants, have higher starting wages.  Many of her workers choose to upgrade their educations as well.

Fees from parents and grants from the government pay for the operating cost of the daycare and the worker’s wages. The daycare fees enable her to pay her workers just minimum wage. The grants from the government can enable Purdy to give her workers bonuses and up their wages but grants get cut down when there is a drop in children enrolled. 

The workers provide children with basic education similar to a preschool. The children have routines that include educational portions in the day, napping, brushing their teeth, and meals. The daycare has children as young as 18 months enrolled and their after school program cares for children as old as 12. Some of the children enrolled have special needs.

Purdy says it’s also difficult to find and retain employees with such a low wage because of the education and stress involved in the job.

Purdy’s acting assistant director Tarina Risser has worked at the daycare as an early childhood educator for seven years.  Throughout the years she has taken programs to further her education in the field.   She makes $12.60 an hour.

“I feel as though, especially in the position I am in with all the responsibility, all the education I have to upkeep that the wage as of right now is definitely too low,” says Risser.

Risser is a mother and says the wages she receives don’t allow for much wiggle room with money.  She wishes she could save more in order to help her daughter with her post secondary education.

            Risser would like the government to understand what goes into her job.

“I would really like (the government) to see what it is we actually do with the children, I think that in general society thinks of us as babysitters, it’s much more than that,” says Risser.

Organizations: Department of Education, Department of Children and Family Services

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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  • Kathleen Couture
    May 30, 2014 - 06:46

    Wonderful article, well said and so so true for our Province. The Canadian wide "You Bet We Still Care" report and publication shows that Nova Scotia has the lowest paid Early Childhood Educators in all of Canada. Our Government really needs to take a stand on this and quickly ! Early Childhood Educators TEACH our future generations. It is proven that 85% of brain development occurs in those first 5 years! Early Childhood Educators deserve a wage that reflects their profession.

  • Jake
    May 06, 2014 - 03:27

    The market decides wages, just because someone has education doesn't make you deserve more money. supply and demand, too many people can do your job so the pay is low. You also make above minimum wage so what's the issue? Looks to me you are fairly paid. Go do some open heart surgery if you want to make more money otherwise stop whining about what you make, if you don't like it do something about it. Anyone can do your job, sidney crosby has a job that very few can do at that skill level, that dictates what the job is worth. plus if you actually enjoy the job money is a bonus, you shouldn't be working that job if doing it just for the money. a bunch of whiners just like the kids you're looking after, you should know better.

    • Kim
      May 29, 2014 - 23:22

      Jake you're an idiot. It shows how educated you are if you think a hockey player deserves more pay than an educator. He straps on skates and hits a black thing on ice. Yay... How does that help anyone in society? Entertainment should never receive more pay than education, especially when it comes to children. Just because people want a fair wage does not mean they like their job/career any less. I would be curious as to what YOUR job and income is.

  • Sherry
    May 04, 2014 - 18:46

    We as Early Childhood Educators are the front line workers for the children's learning. We teach them in all areas of development and help prepare them for the school system. It is truly sad that we are so under paid and under valued, not only by the government but by some of the daycare owners/operators as well. We need to change this if we hope to keep professionals in this field of education.