Thousands of young people in Toronto’s public schools are being short-changed because the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is playing games with their education.

With hundreds of education workers’ jobs going unfilled in the city’s schools, TDSB is depriving students of the services they need by keeping hundreds of workers off the job, warn Toronto Education Workers, who are members of Local 4400 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The union has filed for conciliation with the Ministry of Labour in an effort to conclude local contract negotiations for its members who work at TDSB, Conseil scolaire Viamonde, and the Bloorview School Authority.  

In November, Toronto education workers, along with CUPE members in school boards across the province, ratified a central agreement between CUPE and the province. Since then, CUPE 4400’s five CUPE bargaining units have been unable to settle outstanding issues at their local bargaining tables.

“The employers have delayed filling positions, even though more workers would improve the learning environment for students. In particular, more staffing would provide much-needed support to children with special needs. It is unacceptable for employers to use students as a bargaining chip at our bargaining tables,” said John Weatherup, president of Toronto Education Workers.

In the TDSB alone, hundreds of education workers’ positions have gone unfilled.   

At CUPE’s request, the Ministry of Labour will appoint a conciliation officer, who will meet with the union and the employer in an effort to help the parties resolve their differences.

“Our only goal is to reach a fair local agreement that ensures high-quality services for students,” said Weatherup.

Local 4400 represents 13,432 education workers in over 350 job classifications, including caretakers, education assistants, early childhood educators, school office administrators, instructors, school-based safety monitors, outdoor education facilitators, information technologists, central administration, and nutrition service workers.