The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents about 50,000 employees in the province’s elementary and secondary school system. CUPE has more than 100 bargaining units in the province ‘s public, Catholic and Francophone boards, and we represent employees in virtually every classification save for classroom teachers, principals and vice-principals, and senior board staff.
Despite these numbers, and the crucial roles that support staff play in the school system, this government apparently endorses the way the funding formula views CUPE members as almost incidental to the smooth running of our schools. In a recent response to one of our members from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic board, who is losing her job, the Premier implied that programs for students will improve despite support staff layoffs. That’s an insult to support staff, not to mention a slap in the face for someone losing her job.
While we welcome this opportunity to make recommendations for fixing the funding formula, our enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that we have been making suggestions to improve it since it was introduced but have been virtually ignored. Had our advice been heeded in the past the system would not be facing the crisis it is today. We can only hope that this time our voices will be heard.