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CUPE Ontario school board workers are encouraged by the provincial governments willingness to address the issues of elementary teachers, says Frank Ventresca, chair of the unions school board coordinating committee.

We are looking for the same kind of positive resolution to our own members workload issues, he said. About 250 CUPE education assistants and support staff, representing 40,000 school board employees across the province, met this week in Ottawa to discuss bargaining and workplace issues.

Earlier this week, CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan and other union representatives met with Education Minister Gerard Kennedy to address the provinces funding formula. While teachers issues have been in the forefront, assistants are not getting enough hours to work with students with special needs. School secretaries, custodians and maintenance workers are also stretched to the limit.

Minister Kennedy agreed to create a central table to deal with these issues, Ventresca said. Now, we expect to see progress in a timely manner before conditions in our schools deteriorate any further.