Begins: 23 June 2022 @ 9:30 AM
Location: Dryden & Kenora, ON
DRYDEN & KENORA, ON – On Thursday, the day before Doug Ford is scheduled to announce his next cabinet, frontline education workers will deliver tens of thousands of letters to the premier at his Queen’s Park office.
At the same time, members of CUPE Local 1939 – the frontline education workers of Keewatin-Patricia District School Board – will deliver copies of their letters to Greg Rickford, MPP (Kenora—Rainy River) at Rickford’s constituency offices in Dryden and Kenora.
Writing directly to the re-elected premier, frontline workers from public, Catholic, English, and French school boards across the province are calling for increased staffing in schools to guarantee that service improvements for students will be in place come September, as well as real wage increases above the rate of inflation to address low pay and problems with retention.
What: Delivery of hundreds of education workers’ letters to MPP Greg Rickford
Who: Frontline education workers who are members of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU)
When: Thursday, June 23, 9:30 a.m.
Where: 439 Government St., Unit 2, Dryden, ON, P8N 2P4
300 McClellan Ave., East Room, Kenora, ON, P9N 1A8
The letter to the premier of Ontario, written and signed by education workers, reads in part:
“Even before the pandemic, understaffing among education workers was a problem in Ontario schools. Many school boards can’t recruit and retain qualified education workers, in large part because wages are so low and jobs so precarious.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked both in schools and off-site, at times risking our own and our families’ health and safety. We took these risks so that students could keep learning, schools would be kept secure, and families and communities had the support they needed.”
“A 2021 survey of CUPE education workers found 51% of us worked at least one additional job to make ends meet. This number increases to 64.5% for sole-income earners. Roughly 75% of our members are women for whom the gender pay gap is widening further each year.”
“Frontline education workers are the backbone of every community’s schools with most of us working second or even third jobs to make ends meet,” said Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU). “Yet we’re paid only $39,000 a year on average while we personally subsidize Ontario’s education system by doing unpaid work outside of regular hours because staffing levels are so low we can’t get all the work done on paid time.”
“Whether schools are provided enough money to stop damaging cuts and to ensure that all students, especially students with special needs, have the right supports and services is a political choice made by our elected representatives,” said Walton. “Ontario is the richest province in Canada and the money controlled by only 59 billionaires has increased by more than $100 billion during the pandemic. There’s no excuse for this government to cut corners on our children’s future or for keeping education workers on the brink of poverty.”
The report Education Workers’ Wages in Ontario: The Impact of Ten Years of Cuts released this spring found that Ontario education workers are the lowest-paid in the sector, earning on average only $39,000 per year. It relied on new original data – survey responses from more than 16,000 CUPE education workers.
The Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) unites 55,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who work in the public, Catholic, English, and French school systems throughout Canada’s largest province. OSBCU members are educational assistants, school library workers, administrative assistants, custodians and tradespeople, early childhood educators, child and youth workers, instructors, nutrition service workers, audio-visual technologists, school safety monitors, and social workers.
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Karen Hall – in Dryden
President, CUPE Local 1939
Dave Gollway – in Kenora
Vice-President, CUPE Local 1939