TORONTO — The McGuinty government has once again ignored the people who support students and teachers in our elementary and secondary schools with its announcement of education grants for 2006-07, says the union representing 45,000 education workers across Ontario.
“Yesterday’s announcement touted new investments in grants for student needs, but still nothing has been done to ensure adequate staffing levels for the support workers who keep our schools running and work with the most disadvantaged students,” said Frank Ventresca, chair of the CUPE Ontario school boards coordinating committee.
A recent three-week strike by more than 1,000 educational and instructional assistants with the Thames Valley District School Board illustrated that support staff workers are no longer willing to shoulder the burden of shortfalls in the system. EAs across the province have had their hours of work cut in recent years and last year’s framework agreement with teachers on preparation time has only made the situation worse, Ventresca said.
While support workers are pleased to see the commitment to reducing class sizes, the failure of the ministry to budget for the operational expenses of new facilities and equipment means there is ongoing pressure on boards to contract out custodial and maintenance services, Ventresca said.
The ministry announced yesterday that the “salary benchmark gap” in the funding formula will be eliminated for teachers, but said nothing about ensuring that boards receive adequate funding for support staff salaries.
“The crisis in education is not over as far as support staff are concerned,” Ventresca said. “Prep time and workload will continue to be huge issues as our locals go to the bargaining table in 2006. Our salary increases don’t even cover the rising cost of health care benefit premiums.”
The previous education minister did little to address issues that are important to education support workers, said Ventresca. “We are still waiting for an opportunity to meet with the new minister and work together to avert unfortunate situations such as what occurred in London last month.”
For more information, contact:
Frank Ventresca, Chair,
Ontario School Boards Coordinating Committee,
416-299-9739 ext 264