Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Is going On Here?

Want a bonus for quitting a job, or going through college and not bothering to find a position in your field right away? Well step right up to Alberta childcare and you could get between $2500 and $5000 as a 'signing bonus' - straight from the tax coffers.

I honestly do not understand what is going on these days. A few years ago, Alberta started a special fund for 'Staff Attraction' bonuses, where if a person was working in a childcare center but QUIT (for whatever reason, like, perhaps, not enough pay), and a year or so had passed, the Director of the center could contact that person again and say 'If you come back to work for us, after 12 months, the AB govt will give you $1000 as a bonus". I thought that was the craziest thing I had ever heard of - quit your job and then get a bonus for coming back, paid for a la tax payers.

But it has since gotten worse. I was reading in our funding booklet today because I am getting ready to do our yearly 'Accreditation' mumbo jumbo - and I came across changes to that Staff Attraction bonus system that made my head fall off and roll across the floor.

Now it is only available for those who have their One or Two year certificate/diploma, however it also includes NEW staff - anyone who has less than 6 months experience working in childcare, and for those who have more than 6 months experience. What the hell?

I was fuming. Why? Well let's see - because I have been working at my center since 1995, my boss since 1988, another coworker since 1999, and another for 6 years. We don't get any bonuses from the govt for longevity, tenure, etc. Nothing like that.

But my boss could hire someone fresh out of college next spring and that person would get a bonus of $2500 after ONE YEAR of work. Or she could hire someone who has been out of the field for a little while and they could get that as well. OMFG. I really could not believe what I was reading. I was shocked. If the person is a Level 3 (2 yr diploma), they could get up to $5000 after two years of working.

ALSO what I noted was something interesting... It says after 12-24 months of FULL TIME employment at a center.. but then it classed full time as '80 hours or more per month'. On what planet is full time work only 20 hours a week? Holy crap I nearly choked to death and had to read the whole segment 4 times before I finally believed it.

So, basically, I have shot myself in the foot and lost the opportunity to get a big bonus by REMAINING gainfully employed all these years. Heck, I should have quit my job a couple years ago, went across the street to work at Burger King for a year (for the same pay I might add), and then come back to the center and get a nice little bonus of $2500. What the hell was I thinking by trying to remain in my job all this time? I didn't realize that I could get paid for QUITTING. Wow. Am I ever stupid.

I really do not even know what to say about this. I am not even saying that I should get a bonus for 16 years of continuous ACTUAL full time employment (187 hours a month on average), but I am saying that people who quit or didnt try hard enough to find a position after college should not be taking some of the tax money that I have helped pump into this system for all these years in order to get themselves a nice little bonus. $2500 is an extra month's pay for our top earning employee. Little did we know this handy dandy bonus was waiting in the wings.

I understand the very base onus of the scam, I mean program.... They want quality workers to be with your children every day. Of course they do. And sometimes the really good ones end up moving onto something else because the pay is better and they have to think of their own families. But honestly - paying someone who does NOT have much experience a bonus? Paying someone who QUIT in the first place a bonus? What is that all about? And how many other govt run/supervised programs have this kind of deal in the works? How much of our tax money is being handed out through this method across Alberta, and across Canada? I found it sickening and I wasn't the only one.

My boss was floored. She prides herself on having the lowest staff turnover ratio in the entire city - and I would be willing to bet she is one of the highest in the whole province because we have all worked there for so long. But talk about a shot in the arse to find out that people who do NOT have such low staff turnover are able to give some of their staff huge bonuses. She is happy to give us a $50 Christmas bonus and I am happy to receive it - and I do not think it is necessary. But geez now that I know about the other funding, maybe I should just quit and work somewhere else for awhile, and come back and get 50 times that amount for my next Christmas bonus! wooohooo! Talk about financial planning at it's best!

Another thing that ticked me off is the size of the bonus. $2500 would pay about 2/3 of the Level 2 college program, and $5000 would pay over half of the Level 3 program. So basically, your bonus for getting that education would be to have a huge chunk of your bill paid off within a year or two of graduation, if you play your cards right. Make sure you do not get a job in your field right away, wait 6 months, then apply at a center and BINGO - bill paid, largely by your fellow taxpayers.

Meanwhile, there is a whole whack of us out there who did our schooling, struggled to pay bills and loans, worked while studying, and we didn't get squat to help us pay it off faster because we *gasp* started working in our field right away and did not quit. How terrible of us. How stupid.

Seriously - what is this world coming to? Why are we paying people bonuses for leaving their career field or not being able to get one (or not trying hard enough) in the first place, leaving those who did work hard and remained employed for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25+ years straight in the dust? If a private company wants to do that - fine, go for it. It's your money. But this program is NOT using private money that it made. It's a government program and it's using YOUR money. Enjoy!


  1. Are you getting the government subsidized wage "top up"?

  2. Yes, because we are an accredited center, we get the 'top' amount for hourly wage enhancement. So would all of the 'new' staff hired under this attraction bonus I talked about. So, someone working full time in a center would get anywhere from $200 to $1020 per month on their cheque that comes from the taxpayers, and could get an extra $2500 to $5000 more on top of that if they were a level 2 or 3 coming in under the New Staff Attraction program.

    Even if we were not accredited, there is a 'pre-accredited' wage enhancement that is given out. I don't like any of it because I started doing my job when the only subsidy a daycare got was $20 a month per space filled. Now there is $7500 a year per center for a Quality Support Funding grant, $1000 per year per staff member for Professional Development, this staff attraction bonus, wage enhancement of $2 to $6 per hour (depending on Level) for accredited center staff, etc etc etc. There are other funding things too but we dont go into those. The others are pretty much automatic.

    It's like a trap to me. I have posted about it several times over the years. We did not HAVE to become accredited, but then the govt rolled out it's big program telling parents about how great it would be to have their child at an accredited center. I've seen posters and wall sections around the city regarding Accreditation. Like 'hey parents, did you know that if your child is in an accredited center, that means it's BETTER than the ones that aren't?' etc etc etc. We have had parents calling over the past couple of years asking if we are Accredited before they ask any other questions. Word got around, just like we knew it would. Sitting on the phone to a parent of a 2 year old who can't speak for himself, telling them 'No, we are not accredited' did not sound good for business - but we had no idea how much mumbo jumbo would come along with it.

    Actually, the wage enhancement used to be done separately - before this Accreditation business even started, but it filtered over to that side once things got going. It's frustrating. I saw on the website that people in Fort MacMurray get about $1000 a month more than anywhere else in the province, because of the cost of living there. So that's even more money.

    Many years ago, people decided that the govt should have control of childcare and this is what we all end up with. You cannot run a center in this province without govt approval - it's illegal to have more than 6 kids in your care in a truly private business. Only 'dayhomes' can be private (in-home babysitting). Over 6 kids, you have to be registered and approved and inspected by the govt as a daycare center (or out of school care center), and along with that comes all this fun stuff.

  3. I could choose not to work in this field at all in order to avoid having to access so much in tax money from my fellow albertans - but that completely defeats the purpose of what I believe in for my job. I like to work with preschool children, and I especially like being able to take my own children with me (all three have been with me at work all these years). But the govt keeps piling money into this in all sorts of crazy directions.

    I told my coworkers that if I were to complain about the staff attraction bonus, we would be told 'well you guys have had wage enhancement for the past 7 years'. And I could say 'yeah, and so did the people who eventually quit, and they will again when they get hired back, along with all the newbies with less than 6 months experience'. so big hairy deal. I get more taken off my cheque in tax CP and EI each month than I get from wage enhancement so I am at least still managing to pay into the system - barely.

    Oh but wait. im really NOT because the majority of our parents are subsidized, meaning that the taxpayers are paying about 72% of all my daycare's income right now. Since that is in turn used to pay me, well I am in a deadend tax job. Paid with tax dollars from two directions. It's disheartening. I don't want it to be like that - but I love my job and think it's one of the most important ever. I look after real live human beings every day, all day long. What could be more important than that?? But I fear it has become one of the sneakiest tax drains in the country and it just keeps getting worse :(

    That makes me very sad and confused about my career choice.



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