TORONTO, Ont. – Today’s education funding announcement from the McGuinty government will continue to short-change school operations and support staff, and do nothing to quell rising labour unrest, according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario division.
“With today’s announcement, the educational formula introduced by the Mike Harris government almost a decade ago continues to short-change the so-called “non-classroom” areas of the school,” said CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan about the General Legislative Grants for school boards announced by the provincial government. “Funding for school operations, as a percentage of overall funding, will decline to 9.36% in 2007-08 from 9.7% in 2005-06. Today’s announcement does virtually nothing to address the many improvements to the funding formula that school support staff have been demanding.”
“This funding issue will mean continuing layoffs of custodial and maintenance staff, resulting in school facilities that will remain dirtier, and less safe and healthy than they should be,” said Frank Ventresca, Chair of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee (OSBCC). “Having met with Education Minister Kathleen Wynne last fall, we are disappointed that they ignored our recommendations to fix the funding formula.”
CUPE Ontario recommended that the Minister eliminate the $375 million shortfall in school operations funding; restructure the funding formula so that cleaning and maintenance is included in the school foundation grant; provide funding to increase educational assistants’ hours to seven per day across the province; and address the exploding problem of school supervision that is increasing workloads of Educational Assistants (EAs), school secretaries and library staff.
“While the government has allocated funds for equipment and technology for high needs students, there is no mechanism in the grants to ensure that special needs students will have the level of support from Educational Assistants that they need,” says Ryan. “One year ago, Educational Assistants went on strike in the London area over poor working conditions that were affecting their ability to meet the needs of special needs students. There is nothing in these grants that addresses the concerns of these EAs.”
“It is incredible that the McGuinty Government can boast today about “the government’s efforts to ensure peace and stability in the classroom,” said Ryan. “Our members in Dufferin-Peel, who face staff cuts imposed by the provincial supervisor, will find no relief in today’s announcement. Nor will our members in Durham who have a March 21 strike deadline because their employer says they can’t afford to make contract improvements. This announcement brings no significant new funds to the Durham board.”
The CUPE Ontario School Board Committee has invited the Education Minister to its annual conference next month, with the hope that Minister Wynne will outline what the government has done, and plans to do, for educational support staff.
For more information, please contact: Sid Ryan, President, CUPE Ontario - 416-209-0066; Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications - 647-225-3685