Cuts to services and frontline jobs put children and schools at risk

BROCKVILLE, ON – Education workers at Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) are challenging trustees to ensure that services for children with special needs don’t fall victim to the ruthless cost-cutting measures outlined in a report from the board’s finance department.

They also warn against cuts to the frontline jobs that contribute to safe, secure and well-run schools.

“On behalf of children, their families and education workers across the region, we’re saying enough is enough – no more attacks on frontline services and frontline service providers,” said Sue Hanson, president of Local 5678 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Hanson’s vehement response follows the release of an updated preliminary deliberation report from UCDSB’s Finance department to the board’s trustees. The report, which will be discussed at the trustees’ meeting on Wednesday, May 25, recommends radical and sweeping cuts to the hours available for educational assistants to work children who have special needs custodians, building specialists and maintenance workers who keep schools clean, serviced and in good repair school office secretaries and administrators who ensure UCDSB schools are safe and well run.

Hanson highlights a particularly absurd statement on page 2 of the report: “We want to maximize the worker support to students while the students are present, and not be funding workers when students are not present.”

She charges that this assertion reveals a profound ignorance on the part of the report’s authors about how education and schools actually work.

“They apparently think that schools can be cleaned by custodians when children are in class; that educational assistants can prepare for lessons and evaluate the progress of high-needs children at the same time they’re teaching them; and that school office administrators don’t have duties to perform outside a six-and-a-half-hour school day that is spent dealing with the needs and demands of children, parents, colleagues and the public,” said Hanson. 

She continued, saying that children – especially children with special needs – and families and the wider community depend on the services provided by the very workers whose jobs are under threat.

“These are the people who ensure that all children have equal access to education; they protect our public buildings by making sure that the district’s schools are safe, clean, well run and well maintained,” concluded Hanson.

“If trustees want to protect children’s needs in schools, then they must reject these cuts.” 

For more information, please contact:

Sue Hanson, President, CUPE 5678, 613-330-4665

Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 647-390-9839