CUPE Nova Scotia is deeply disappointed to learn that our elected representatives have chosen to exclude unions from discussions about violence in schools.

CUPE Nova Scotia denounces the recent motion passed by members of the Provincial Standing Committee on Public Accounts that limits witnesses testifying at a future meeting to address an upcoming report from the Auditor General titled Preventing and Addressing Violence in Public Schools.

The motion, from MLA Nolan Young, lists only one witness: the Deputy Minister of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Elwin LeRoux. CUPE Nova Scotia also expresses its support for the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, NSTU, and its statement on this matter.

“It’s workers who are dealing with violence in the workplace every single day. If the government chooses to prevent unions from participating in discussions about violence in schools, they are choosing to shut out the voices of those working on the frontlines of this issue,” said CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen.

CUPE Nova Scotia represents 5,000 school support staff across the province and have issued a letter to the office of the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, Becky Druhan, to participate in meetings with the Safe and Inclusive Schools Working Group in December. The Minister has yet to reply to the letter or the multiple requests sent thereafter, seeking a response.

In 2022, CUPE Nova Scotia conducted a survey among school support staff on their experience of violence in schools. In response, 50% of our members said they did not receive a response to workplace violence reports. Forty-three percent said that their employer does not do enough to prevent workplace violence. The results of this survey have also been sent to Minister Druhan’s office, with no reply.

“While we welcome efforts to investigate this pressing issue, it should not, and cannot, come at the expense of one of the largest groups of employees within the school system,” said Nelson Scott, chair of the Nova Scotia School Board Council of Unions, NSSBCU. The NSSBCU is the bargaining council for the eight CUPE locals representing school support staff across the province.

CUPE Nova Scotia implores the Provincial Standing Committee to reconsider this decision and stands in solidarity with the NSTU, who have made the same request.