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YWCA Ontario responds to two major investments in women, gender-diverse people, and families

YWCA Ontario, a coalition of 10 YWCAs across the province, is pleased to see two new initiatives that will impact the safety, well-being, and economic success of women and families: Ontario signing on to the National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence, and a provincial investment in child care workers.

First, the federal government announced last week that Ontario will receive $162 million in federal funds over four years to support the implementation of the National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence. The action plan, launched in November 2022, is a decade-long initiative with the goal of ending gender-based violence and supporting survivors and their families.

We are relieved and buoyed by this historic announcement. The establishment of a National Action Plan in Ontario and the $162 million investment are excellent first steps towards ending gender-based violence. In particular, we are pleased to see a commitment to stabilizing and strengthening the gender-based violence sector within the rollout of the plan, an initiative our coalition and sector partners have long called for. 

We eagerly await the details of how the province plans to invest the $162 million to ensure these much-needed funds are used to support survivors and advance efforts to prevent violence. Notably, we look forward to seeing a clear accountability plan detailing how success will be measured. We know that greater, permanent investments are needed to eradicate this violence, and it is concerning to consider there is no guaranteed funding to implement this action plan after four years.YWCAs are expert partners and service providers for women, children and gender diverse people experiencing and fleeing violence, and we offer our knowledge and support to the province with the plan’s implementation process and their planning to ensure this new investment supports those who need it most.

Last week, the province also announced an increase in minimum wage for early childhood educators, in order to address wage insufficiency, tackle the severe labour shortage, and attract workers to the sector. We are pleased to see that wages will rise to $23.84 for Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) and $24.86 for supervisors, with annual increases until 2026. We are hopeful that this decision will help to stabilize the ongoing crisis in the sector and ensure that women and families are able to access safe, reliable, affordable child care – which in turn, helps solidify their economic success.

We are also heartened to see that this funding announcement includes a promotional campaign to help draw people to the profession, the establishment of a dedicated professional development day, and a program to help non-RECE child care staff earn an RECE diploma.

However, we know that more must be done and that fair wages for workers play a crucial role in ensuring a strong child care sector. Unfortunately, this announcement did not present improvements for non-RECE staff or supervisor-approved staff, who play a critical role in ensuring the success of our child care programs. We fear this will cause significant inequities within the sector and echo the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care’s concerns that this announcement is not a long-term solution.

We are committed to working with the provincial government to ensure this announcement marks the beginning of continued investments aimed at building a robust, accessible and affordable child care system that all parents can access, and one that values the vital work of child care workers.

As a coalition of organizations supporting more than 40,000 women, girls and gender diverse people across Ontario, we are acutely aware that these initiatives come at a time of heightened crises, when so many require support. It is our hope that both these initiatives lead to tangible improvements in the lives of women, gender-diverse people, and families across the province, and are ready and willing to dedicate our skills and expertise to ensure this is the case.

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