Childcare worker responds to staff shortage closure of daycare

Childcare agencies need to find a way to include unvaccinated workers on staff

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letter has been sent in response to the September 14 front page story ‘Staff shortage shutters Manitowaning daycare.’

To the Expositor:

I am not an early childhood educator (ECE), but I have worked in the childcare field for over seven years, facilitated by Assiginack Childcare. During my time there, I worked each of the positions: on the floor in the family grouping room, on the floor in the school age room, screener/cleaner, cook and solo-employee running/managing the school age children program. Staff that work on the floor with the children are each responsible to complete the same tasks and duties, regardless of their educational background. There were only two qualified ECEs who worked full time at the centre during my seven years. The rest of the staff were hardworking individuals, with varied educational backgrounds, who had a true passion for working with children, such as myself. Although I had been there longer than any other staff member, the absence of an ECE diploma allowed management to make climbing the ladder or establishing seniority impossible, regardless of years served. I acquired only a .75 cent wage increase throughout the entirety of my years served. After quitting my job at Assiginack Childcare in early 2022, I applied to work with Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR). During the interview with MFR’s head of childcare, it was expressed that they were in dire need of childcare workers. After a positive interview, I was asked about my medical confidentiality. Upon learning I chose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine, she informed me that I did not meet the requirements for the job, due to that fact.

I find the statement made by MFR management, to the Expositor, quite ironic: “We are at the cusp ourselves. If we lose one or two more staff, we might have to close ourselves.” It seems they would rather run the risk of closing MFR’s doors, leaving numerous families without childcare, than to hire someone who meets all the requirements, but does not meet their personal vaccination preferences. It is unfortunate for Island families to be the ones effected by the decisions of a select few individuals, who dictate childcare workers’ ability to work within the system. My hope is that childcare management on Manitoulin is able to find a way to include, acquire and retain staff for the sake of the working families that are the blood and sweat that this island is made of.

Rachel Aeschlimann