The Ontario teachers’ strikes are proving to be more acrimonious than anyone expected. Some Elementary teachers have now opted out of sending report cards to parents, and have already begun to engage in rotating strikes.
The Ontario government, on the other hand, have offered up to $60 per day for parents who are feeling the fiscal consequences of the strike, and rumours of back to work legislation is being floated around the corridors of Queen’s Park.
The teachers’ strikes are deeply consequential and have affected the day-to-day lives of 13 million Ontarians who live in the most populace province in Canada. Due to the vast impact this strike, and the mainstream media’s lack of balance in the coverage (often siding with the unions and tecahers), The Post Millennial has compiled a list of things you need to know about the Ontario teachers’ strikes.
1. Ontario’s teachers are among the highest paid in the country
Ontario’s teachers are among the best paid in the country. In the Greater Toronto Area, for instance, top teachers can expect to get paid up to $96,000 a year. The average salary for a teachers in Ontario is $89,300 for elementary teachers and $92,900 for high school teachers. In contrast, the average Ontarian earns $55,000 per year.
2. Ontario teachers are taking more and more sick days
A 2017 study found that teachers have been taking more and more sick days over the past five years. On average, sick days have increased by over 30 percent. In 2020, another report revealed even starker results with teachers taking 70 percent more sick days than over a decade ago.
3. Teachers get a whole lot of time off
Ontario’s teacher’s have a pretty great job. Not only do they get paid a wage that is far higher than the average Ontarian, they also get a lot of time off. Due to breaks in the school year, teachers are allowed three whole months off, on top of the aforementioned sick days.
4. Teachers’ Unions are spending big bucks to win the PR war
So far, the OSSTF has spent $336,389 on Facebook ads alone. These ads usually attack the Ford government and have been running since June. In one week alone, they spent over $40,000. They’re also waging a war of words against Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce through the mainstream press.
5. The Ontario government has already made concessions, but unions won’t meet in the middle
Premier Doug Ford has offered numerous concessions to the teachers’ unions from the government’s initial demands. Ford, for example, offered to meet the teachers half-way on classroom size. This, however, was not good enough for the teachers, and they walked away from the negotiation table. They’re also refusing to send report cards to parents and help out in after school activities, despite claiming the strikes are primarily for the students, not their pay cheques.
6. Ontario’s students are flunking math tests
If you’re going to teach mathematics to a new generation of students, you should probably have to prove that you have some basic ability to do so. This hardly unreasonable request, however, created some tension with the teachers’ unions. Despite EQAO tests showing all-time lows, the unions were upset that teachers had to score at least 70 percent in a math test.
7. Ontario’s debt is astronomically high
After a decade of Liberal government, Ontario’s debt stands at over $350,000,000,000. This figure constitutes one of the highest sub-national debts in the world. Due to this, the Ford government is trying to cut back public sector salaries, which means slowing down the rate at which teachers are paid. Teachers in Ontario also have what many experts consider to be a great pension package.
The Ontario teachers strike has been going on for a while, and the teachers’ unions continue to escalate the situation.
Ontario’s four largest teachers’ unions will be staging a one-day strike across the province on Feb. 21 if there is not an agreement reached with the provincial government. The four teachers unions involved in the strike are the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens.
Rotating strikes have been going on in my neighbourhood in the past few weeks. I have driven by these demonstrations.
Some people honk their horns or cheer to show support for the teachers. I do not honk my horn or cheer. I roll down the window of the vehicle I am in and make some blunt comments.
“Quit complaining!” I shout at the crowds of teachers. “You have the best part-time jobs in the world!”
Ontario’s teachers should not be striking, because they already have amazing jobs.
Ontario’s teachers receive fantastic health and dental insurance. This health and dental insurance allows teachers to avoid paying certain health care costs.
The ETFO Benefits Plan Guide says Ontario’s public elementary school teachers receive health insurance that includes up to $12,000 for fertility drugs per lifetime, two pairs of custom orthopedic shoes per benefit year, and up to $1,000 for massage therapy if a doctor’s note is provided. Their dental insurance covers 100 percent of dental check ups, x-rays, and fillings, 100 percent of root canals and related services, and 50 percent of child and adult orthodontics.
Vacation time is abundant for Ontario’s teachers. They have eight weeks off for summer vacation, two weeks for winter break, and one week for March break.
This vacation time applies to new employees. Can you name any other jobs that receive 11 weeks of vacation time when employees first start?
One reason why Ontario’s teachers are striking is salary. The Ontario government hopes to provide a one percent pay raise per year for the next three years, but teachers want two percent. Teachers should not be complaining, because they already make a substantive amount of money.
The Toronto District School Board’s salary grid shows that effective August 31, 2019, more experienced teachers can make $73,071 to $100,034 per year.
A poll done by Campaign Research found that the majority of Ontarians are opposed to giving teachers a two percent pay raise.
Ontario’s teachers have a pension. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) said that teachers are eligible to retire with an unreduced pension when their age and qualifying years equal 85 years old or when they turn 65 years old. This means that a teacher who started working at 25 could retire by 55 if they work for 30 years.
Statistics Canada reported that the average age of retirees in Canada in 2019 was 64.3 years old, so teachers can afford to retire earlier than most people.
Their pensions are cushiony. The OTPP said that until a teacher turns 65 years old, his or her pension is calculated by multiplying two percent, the amount of years worked, and the average salary of their best five years. A teacher who worked for 30 years and earned an average of $85,000 in their best five years would earn a pension of $51,000 per year.
There are teachers who claim that they are striking to help students. However, if these teachers are passionate about supporting students, why were they not striking during the summer?
Premier Doug Ford was right when he said that there is a pattern when the teachers go on strike.
“They went on strike under Bob Rae, they went on strike under Mike Harris, they went on strike under Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne,” said Ford at a press conference in April 2019. “They strike under every single government that’s in there.”
Ontario’s teachers and students belong in the classroom. Striking is unproductive and selfish–it’s not for the kids.
Two protestors have been charged after they allegedly dumped a load of manure on the sidewalk in front of Doug Ford’s constituency office in Etobicoke, according to CTV News.
The incident itself occurred on Dec. 22, as two men were recorded shovelling manure from a pickup truck in front of Ford’s office.
It later turned out that Extinction Rebellion organized the protest—saying that they were upset by the Progressive Conservative government’s environmental policy.
An Instagram post showed Extinction Rebellion taking credit for the incident, saying “from killing Hamilton’s LRT to the (expensive!) cancelling of clean energy projects to his attempts to open the Greenbelt for development, it’s clear the premier is putting our children’s future in danger.”
“We think that’s bullsh*t,” they added. In the post, they also used a photograph of the manure and an eco-radical with a shovel.
Two Hamilton residents have been charged in relation to this incident. Cameron Topp, 49, and Dennis Alvey, 55, were charged with mischief under $5,000.
The four largest education unions of Ontario are planning on striking starting Feb. 21—a shutdown that will cause a full shut down of Ontario’s public education system.
According to Global News, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) and Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-Ontarians (AEFO) were all in attendance Wednesday at Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s speaking event.
Those four unions represent over 200,000 teachers province-wide across over 5,000 schools. The strike will result in the absence of education for nearly 2,000,000 students starting Feb. 21.
The event was heavily picketed by some of those 200,000 outside the Royal York Hotel.
AEFO president Remi Sabourin told Global that “It is clear to all four Ontario education unions and our members that the Ford government and Education Minister Lecce care nothing about students or educators and everything about taking money out of the publicly funded education system.”
A statement from ETFO president said, “Educators in every school board will not stay silent as the Ford government proceeds to decimate our publicly funded education system.”
Walkouts have already taken place amongst teachers from the four unions in the form of one-day protests. ETFO members recently took an Ontario-wide strike Tuesday, and on Wednesday, rotating strikes continued at school boards throughout the province.
As of now, the union representing French schoolboards are the only ones still at the negotiating table.
ETFO representative Hammond said that the province was close to reaching a deal with the government, but that provincial negotiators tabled a last-minute new proposal which the union declined.
The Ford government offered compensation of up to $60 a day to parents who were affected by the strike and needed child care kickbacks.
Kenny Shim is the Spokesperson and Chief Operating Director of the Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association (OKBA).
On Feb. 3 a Globe and Mail story suggested that the Ontario government was about to introduce new regulations to ban most flavoured vaping products from convenience stores–while allowing specialty vape stores to continue selling hundreds of them. If true, this policy change is unfounded, unfair, and harmful to thousands of Ontario’s C-store owner-operators.
The health of our young people is at the heart of this issue, so it’s critical that any new policy is done right.
According to the Centres of Disease Control & Prevention in the US the recent rash of vape-related deaths and hospitalizations have largely been attributed to vitamin E acetate added to open-pod systems. Convenience stores typically DO NOT carry these products, while every vape shop does. C-stores sell a small range of flavoured vaping products, including tobacco and mint, and a limited range of flavoured closed-pod systems to encourage smokers to transition away from cigarettes. Vape shops on the other hand often sell hundreds of different flavours in conjunction with open-pod systems that users can modify to change concentration levels.
Of youth surveyed in Health Canada’s 2017 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 49 percent admitted trying a vape reported they borrowed, shared or bought it from a friend. Twenty-three percent admitted purchasing their vapes from a vape shop, but only 12 percent claimed they purchased their vape from a convenience store.
Banning flavours from C-stores will not curb youth usage; if flavoured vapes remain available in vape shops and online, youth who want them will figure out a way to get them–convenience stores are not the problem!
C-store operator’s livelihood depends on their ability to responsibly sell various age-restricted products. In Ontario this includes tobacco, lottery and in some locations (where stores operate LCBO Convenience Outlets), beverage alcohol. Convenience stores have proven to be responsible and trusted government-partners over the last several decades. Recent government statistics show C-store compliance rate in checking ID is over 96 percent! Meanwhile, current stats on the diligence of vape shops is not widely available. A recent Health Canada letter to vaping retailers stated that more than 80 percent of vape stores inspected were in violation of the Tobacco & Vaping Products Act. Convenience store associations are working hard to ensure none of their members sell age-restricted products to minors, and that ID is always requested, regardless of how old the customer looks.
If Health Canada’s most recent Tobacco/Alcohol & Drugs survey confirms that twice as many minors admitted purchasing their vapes from vape stores over convenience stores, why is the government not banning these products across all retail channels?
With a strong track record of not selling to kids–C-stores have earned the right to fair treatment.
The Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association (OKBA) supports any initiative to protect public health, particularly youth, but strongly opposes measures that single out convenience store owners as irresponsible and untrustworthy. The proposed policy to ban flavoured vape sales from C-stores implies a complete lack of trust in thousands of hardworking entrepreneurs, who are otherwise considered capable of responsibly selling tobacco, lottery and beverage alcohol (through LCBO Convenience Outlets), not to mention the direct government-removal of a current revenue stream from these legal retail products.
The Ontario Government needs to consider the facts before introducing potential regulations that could harm convenience stores–both financially and reputationally.
The OKBA and its members were very pleased with the Ford government’s attitude towards making Ontario “Open for Business” and look forward to regulations around vaping retail that are fair for all stakeholders.