›› Shannon Jamison

Parents have always relied on child care to work. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it crystal clear that child care is also an essential service for our society. We’ve seen that without child care many health care and public safety workers can’t do their jobs, and the story’s the same across all sectors of our economy.

Despite this, throughout the pandemic the child care sector has often been in the dark—left to navigate and interpret provincial health orders and develop policies and safety protocols on their own.

As one Early Childhood Educator stated in a recent open letter, “We have gone above and beyond to provide the safest possible environments for the children in our care and yet somehow we have been given little to no guidance or support.”

This needs to change.

Early Childhood Educators need to be recognized and acknowledged for the critical role they have played in this pandemic, in the lives of families and across our economy.

This can start with the Province working cooperatively with the child care ­sector to identify and implement appropriate safeguards, including priority access to vaccination boosters, rapid antigen tests and PCR testing, and personal protective equipment including N95 masks. It should also include proactive communication and consultation about emerging variants and impacts to the sector.

My daughter’s early childhood educators are some of the most important people in our lives—providing a foundation of daily support—and our government needs to do more to support them, too.