BROCKVILLE, ON – With services and safety for vulnerable children at risk, education workers at Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) are demanding that trustees direct their efforts toward finding real solutions to the board’s $4.5 million deficit and stop their assault on the vital programs and services delivered by those on the front lines.

Sue Hanson, president of Local 5678 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), has reacted indignantly to an updated preliminary deliberation report from UCDSB’s Finance department to the board’s trustees.

“The report’s recommendations make scapegoats of vulnerable students by cutting the hours available to help children with behavioural and other special needs, and victimize the dedicated workers who help these children, as well as those behind-the-scenes employees who help run our schools,” she said.

The report, which will be discussed at the trustees’ meeting on May 25, proposes to resolve UCDSB’s fiscal problems with sweeping cuts to the jobs of those providing frontline services, including educational assistants; custodians, building specialists and maintenance workers; and school office administrators.

“We are demanding that the board take a different approach so that services can be preserved.”

Hanson pointed out that NDP education critic Lisa Gretzky recently wrote in an open letter to Education minister Liz Sandals that the Wynne government cut $8 million in special education funding across 25 school boards this year and let over $1 billion in dedicated education funding go unused over the past three years.

There are lessons there for the trustees of UCDSB, Hanson said, as well as in the board’s 2006-07 “rebalancing” project, Quest 2020. That exercise compared historical, current and projected staffing numbers as part of budget deliberations and Hanson is calling on trustees to carry out a similar initiative this time.

“Ten years ago, Quest 2020 reviewed staffing levels across the board and came up with plans that preserved frontline services. We are calling on trustees to demand the same type of review this time and avoid the temptation of across-the-board cuts that target the most vulnerable among children and workers,” concluded Hanson.

For more information, please contact:

Sue Hanson, President, CUPE 5678

Mary Unan, CUPE Communications