PEI: The provincial Government has disbanded one of the school boards, leading to layoffs. A new governance commission is looking at education, declining enrolment, the increased number of special needs students and other issues.
NFLD: CUPE 1560 in Newfoundland was successful in its lobbying efforts to increase the number of trades hired by the Eastern School District. The district had only employed six trades for sixty-seven locations, the district now employees 36 tradespersons.
NB: The provincial government is conducting a service review of the education department. CUPE members are worried about their pensions, severance and sick days getting cut. There is also concern students are facing longer bus rides as services are chopped.
Quebec: Education funding has been repeatedly cut by the Charest Liberal government over the last two years. In 2010, school districts were told to reduce administration costs by 10 per cent, followed by cuts of 110 million dollars in early 2011 and further cuts later that year of 200 million dollars. The Minister of Education attempted to announce further cuts to come over the next three years, but had to back down after facing opposition to his plans.
Ontario: The climate for bargaining at provincial school boards is not good. The provincial Liberal government is looking for two years of wage freezes. The government is talking about dealing with unfunded liabilities, including sick leave banks, EI top ups, and other benefits. Liberal MLAs have been encouraging school districts to contract out services.
MB: The settlement trends in Manitoba are: 2010 - 2.6 per cent, 2011 - 1.9 per cent. Declining enrolment is an issue, but the immigration population in some areas continues to grow, with the additional needs that those students require. Funded students not being given all the supports they need. Piggybacking of students is a common occurrence.
Sask: CUPE is working on a ‘One for all’ provincial bargaining campaign. The provincial government is willing to consider CUPE’s proposal, but the School Boards are opposed.
AB: Last spring, the Conservative government slashed 140 million dollars from education funding, on top of 80 million dollars the year before. Educational assistants and special needs students bore the brunt of the cuts, but custodial and maintenance staff were also effected as there was little to no increases to maintenance budgets in last few years. The new Premier promised to reverse education cuts, but only returned 80 per cent of the funding on a one time only basis. CUPE locals have launched a postcard campaign regarding education cuts and are working with CEP and the Alberta Federation of Labour on a “Kids not Cuts” campaign.
BC: With a ‘net zero’ mandate for school board employers in BC, bargaining has been difficult and slow, but the provincial bargaining committee remains committed to getting a fair deal for members. The provincial priorities include recognition and respect for Education Assistants as well as improvements to benefits and professional development. The provincial committee met with the employers’ association throughout the summer and fall with more dates to come in November.