Frontline workers are deeply concerned for children’s safety because Canada’s largest school board plans to cut hundreds of lunchroom supervisors in the 2022-2023 school year.

“At a time when the Toronto District School Board should be hiring more lunchroom supervisors, these bosses who are up for re-election this fall are talking about significant cuts,” said John Weatherup, president of the CUPE 4400.

“There are serious safety issues in our schools so their cuts would be a major step in the wrong direction. The risks that this board and the provincial government are willing to take with kids’ lives is shocking.”

The safety issues go beyond students choking on food, allergic reactions, and minor disruptions.

“With the increasing number of violent incidents in our schools, lunchroom supervision is now a first line of defence to prevent violence. The TDSB’s lunchroom supervisor cuts will do nothing to address avoidable assaults on students, teachers, and other school staff.”

If the TDSB proceeds with its planned terminations, 300 workers – mostly women – will lose their jobs. Lunchroom supervisors are people who work one hour and 15 minutes per day. Many spend almost as much time getting to and from work as they do at work. Their work is challenging and important. The work they do means that teachers and principals get their much-needed lunch breaks without having to worry about students’ wellbeing. Although income from lunchroom supervisors’ jobs is small, in many households it makes a big difference.

“The existing formula of one lunchroom supervisor per 100 children is obviously inadequate. There should always be two because as soon as one has to help a child, there is no one to watch over the other 99.”

Weatherup also highlighted the ripple effect of the board’s decision to insufficiently staff lunchrooms.

“Inadequate supervision in the lunchroom creates an often-chaotic scene which spills over into the classroom when students return from lunch, undermining learning.”

“When there aren’t enough lunchroom supervisors, principals fill the gaps with anyone else they can find. This means special education-educational assistants and designated early childhood educators – who are already paid far too little – will be expected to do even more.”

The TDSB should not lower its standards without even informing parents. That’s why frontline workers are sounding the alarm – urging parents and all concerned voters to demand the cuts be rescinded.

CUPE 4400 calls on every TDSB trustee to take a stand for safe schools, cancel these dangerous cuts, and tell the provincial government that it must safely fund lunchroom supervisor jobs.

“Cuts reducing the number of lunchroom supervisors who protect your kids is another symptom of Doug Ford’s PC Party government bragging, just like the Liberal government before it, that Canada’s richest province spends less per capita on public services than any other province in the country. Frontline workers will remember this on June 2. And when school board trustees are on the ballot this October, we won’t forget those who sided with cuts over safety.”