Question Period (05.28.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services announced a supplement increase –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY: – for Level II early childhood educators working as operators in child care centres. Level II ECEs who do not work as operators have been left wondering why they were left out in this announcement.

Can the minister explain why she chose to discriminate against some of the most skilled early childhood educators in Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, what this government did in this Budget was introduce a ten-year, comprehensive, strategic Child Care Strategy. We have doubled our investment into child care within a ten-year time frame going from $26 million per year to $52 million per year, Mr. Speaker. One of the things that we were asked for along the way was to address the issue of entry-level, Mr. Speaker. We have increased the standard for quality in child care centres by eliminating entry-level. That is what we announced on Friday, we are very committed to child care in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY:Mr. Speaker, the minister should ask herself what this decision says to Level II early childhood educators who worked hard to achieve Level II certification. Her treatment of these Level II ECEs is nothing short of an insult at the beginning of Early Childhood Educator’s Week.

I ask the minister: Why did she decide to treat one group of Level II early childhood educators as second-class citizens?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, what we did in this strategy is we deconstructed the entire system as it was. We looked at issues of sufficiency, affordability and quality and we are putting the system back together. Under that system, Mr. Speaker, entry-level was an issue and attracting operators for a centre is an issue. The reality is 55 per cent of the staff who work with our children does not have the educational requirements so we wanted to raise the floor before we raised the ceiling. I also refer the member to our legislation. Our legislation requires that the lead staff in a home be a Level I, Mr. Speaker.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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