October 4, 2019
The Honourable Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Many school boards are set to close their doors on Monday, October 7 if the custodians, clerical staff, early childhood educators and educational assistants go on strike. This labour dispute has put the well-being of students at risk, plunging many teachers, parents and guardians into a state of uncertainty.
Since the Progressive Conservatives took office, we have seen chaos in Ontario’s school system. Your government’s cuts to education have compromised the quality of students’ learning across our education system. As a former Education Minister that successfully negotiated the last extension agreements with the education sector unions, I understand what’s at stake. Our students are caught in the middle and their education will be significantly impacted by the decisions made at the bargaining table.
As a former Minister of Education, I have the following concerns:
Students will bear the brunt of this job action in this labour dispute. When students are out of the classroom, they are less likely to succeed and we must safeguard their right to quality education in this province. When students are caught in the middle, there are no winners.
The safety and security of our students are at risk. A strike would remove much-needed oversight of students provided by Early Childhood Educators (ECE’s) in full-day kindergarten classes, childcare centres and EarlyON programs jeopardizing their safety. In addition, without educational support workers, the safety of special and high-needs students will also be put at risk.
All stakeholders must return to the bargaining table. The rapid transition from work-to-rule to possible strike action is a clear indication of your government’s failure to collaborate at the bargaining table. Since your election, your government has taken an oppositional tone with the education sector that has been less than helpful and we are seeing the results of that approach at the bargaining table. Instead of affirming and appreciating the great work of custodians, clerical staff, early childhood educators and educational assistants, your government has decided to attack sick days and short-term disability leave. All the stakeholders involved need to return to the bargaining table and hammer out a deal.
Finally, your government is accountable to the people of Ontario, not the Conservative Party of Canada. Your absence and the decision to suspend the legislature further affirms the need to hold your government accountable for its actions.
Ontario needs a leader who is present and engaged. Instead, our Premier has been voiceless while the future of our students, education workers, and education system are thrown into chaos.
Premier Ford, recall the legislature so that we can get back to work. Ontario deserves a government that is working for the people.
Mitzie Hunter, MPP Scarborough-Guildwood