More than 50,000 education workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) walked off the job on Friday. About 2,000 of them showed up at Queen’s Park to stage a demonstration.
And so, what is it this time, you ask? Well, it’s to protest against anti-strike legislation invoked by the Doug Ford Progressive Conservatives.
On Thursday, the province passed legislation that imposes a contract on education workers, banning them from striking by using the notwithstanding clause. This allows the legislature to override portions of the Charter for a five-year term. And predictably, the rank-and-file are not happy about that.
And what do the educational workers want? Well, if you can believe it, CUPE went to the bargaining table demanding an 11% wage increase (later lowering their demand to 6%.) That’s a non-starter for the government which has offered a 2.5% increase each year for four years.
Predictably, much public sector union propaganda was on display at Queen’s Park, such as the false claim by CUPE that workers make an average of $39,000 a year. (That $39,000 salary, alas, is for part-time workers, not full-timers. And they neglect to mention the gold-plated benefits package and pension plan education workers receive. Oops.)
In terms of public perception, however, it appears that this is a political win for the government. For the past two years, kids have been kept out of class due to COVID-19. And before COVID, Ontario teachers were working on a work-to-rule basis in 2019. If these education workers think they have the hearts and minds of parents in their corner, they are most sadly mistaken. Most parents seem to be of the mindset that enough is enough; that three years’ worth of schools being closed is having a negative effect on their kids. They want the schools open – and the teachers teaching.
Of note, all the strikers said it was an overreach by the Ford PCs to invoke the notwithstanding clause. Yet, when asked if it was an overreach by the Justin Trudeau Liberals to invoke the Emergencies Act in terms of shutting down the freedom convoy, most respondents said no. How odd!
As well, it would seem to be the more money and benefits teachers and other education workers receive, the dumber the kids get. Last month, the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) revealed its Ontario student assessment data for 2021-2022. It was not a rosy picture. For example, only 47% of Ontario Grade 6 students met the provincial standard for math. That’s 3% less than how many met the standard in 2018-2019. Do you think that might be due to the fact kids were kept out of class for so long? And the solution to these plunging scores is to have kids miss even more class time? Madness.