Trudeau says Ford budget cuts to education are “frightening”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that Doug Ford’s PC government’s budget cut’s to the Ontario education system are “frightening.”
Trudeau appeared at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation annual meeting in Ottawa on Thursday, where he openly expressed that he worries the cuts could damage the quality of education his three children receive at their Ottawa-area public school.
Specifically, Trudeau set his sights at the cuts made to trim costs in Ontario’s public education system, which enrols 2 million students annually.
The Ford government’s move to increase class sizes from anywhere from 1 to 6 students per class, as well as the 3000 full time teaching positions being cut, both received varying degrees of backlash.
The Ford government say they want to eliminate those 3000 positions through “retirements and attrition.”
“As we look at what the Conservative government in Ontario … has done in terms of cuts to services, cuts to kids, it’s really frightening,” said Trudeau at the meeting.
“As a federal politician, even as prime minister, I’m not supposed to have too much of an opinion on provincial education policy. But I was a teacher and I’m also a parent with kids in the system, and I’m very, very worried about them suddenly showing up in September with a class size of 30 plus, less support for the special needs kids, and an environment that is generally hostile to teachers,” he said.
The Ford government has a main focus on increasing math scores which have fallen behind, as well as “modernizing” classrooms to focus on STEM, financial literacy, and skilled trades positions.
Union representatives say the increase in classroom sizes will be a big challenge for teachers, and that the changes overall hinder a high-functioning education system.
Trudeau points to the PC’s smear campaign against him that the Conservatives don’t care about the education system.
“We saw the Conservatives try a number of attack lines on me that I was just a teacher, and how could I become prime minister. I mean the issue, and this is a personal thing, I think being a teacher informs deeply how I am prime minister,” he said.
The Ontario teachers’ strikes are proving to be more acrimonious than anyone expected. Elementary teachers have now opted out of writing report cards 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 do report cards 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.
Striking elementary teachers in Ontario are refusing to produce reports cards due to the ongoing work-to-rule action.
In a statement produced by the Toronto District School Board, they reminded everyone that “ETFO members have been engaged in legal job action, which includes sanctions related to report cards.”
They went on to add that, “as per the sanctions, teachers will not complete term one report cards … [nor] undertake the role of report card administrator … [nor] file the progress report.”
As well as this, the Toronto District School Board informed it’s members that the teachers will also not conduct parent-teacher interviews, creating severe disruptions for parents.
These latest disruptions follow a long list of strike action that teachers have been engaging in throughout the province. Teachers, for instance, have been conducting “rotating strikes,” thereby forcing parents to look after their children who would otherwise be in school.
In response to the strikes in the province, Premier Doug Ford vowed to compensate parents who would have otherwise felt the financial strain. Ford offered parents up to $60 a day, depending on the age of the child and other factors.
Despite concessions from the Ontario government, the negotiations between the teacher’s unions and the government have remained acrimonious.
Trudeau cabinet’s Bill Blair has revealed that their gun control plan will be rolled out in a “multi-step process” which will include the prohibition of the sale of assault weapons.
While the Trudeau government aims to prohibit assault weapons quickly, other measures, they say, will take more time, including the partial handgun ban that will require talks between the federal and provincial governments, according to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.
Trudeau had specifically called for the banning of “military-style assault weapons” during his 2019 campaign, with a primary focus on weapons that farmers “did not” need that were designed to kill “the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.”
Blair went on to tell reporters Tuesday that his government will implement their agenda on firearms as the steps become ready to implement by the federal government or by the country’s minority parliament.
“Our work is to reduce the supply of guns getting into the hands of criminals, but you also have to interdict the demand for those guns,” he said. “We have just gone through, for many communities across Canada, a very difficult summer last year. And so we want to make sure we are there for those communities and work in those communities to make substantive changes and investments that will help to keep them safe,” Blair told The Globe and Mail in Winnipeg.
Blair said that new rules being put in place “could be accomplished in the near term,” going on to say that programs like an assault weapon buyback “will take a little bit more time.”
When Prime Minister Trudeau was asked in September about those who would not want to participate in a gun buy-back and “making law-abiding citizens into criminals,” Trudeau did not give a direct answer.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been criticized for splashing out on gourmet doughnuts this week in Winnipeg, Manitoba, according to Global News.
The doughnuts in question were purchased at Oh Doughnuts, which, as discovered by True North Centre, cost an eye-watering $47 per dozen.
The owners of the restaurant, however, said that the $47 doughnuts were their “most elaborate, fancy doughnuts… which they didn’t get. They just got regular variety doughnuts.”
As well as this, the doughnut shop stated that Trudeau ordered the product online, resulting in a ten percent price decrease.
This, compared, to Canada’s favourite doughnut shop Tim Hortons, who sells doughnuts for less than ten dollars per dozen, will lead to questions about Trudeau’s inclination to fork out taxpayer money on unnecessary expenses for himself and his Liberal team, all while his government fights veterans and Indigenous people in court over money.
Justin Trudeau is in Winnipeg for a cabinet retreat where he re-groups with his executive in preparation for the upcoming parliament. Trudeau’s retreats have often been stamped as needlessly expensive. Take, for instance, the Liberal cabinet’s trip to St. John’s Newfoundland, where Trudeau visited the theatre, leaving Canadians to foot the tab.
As well as this, in 2018 Trudeau splurged on a cabinet retreat to Vancouver Island amid the on-going wild fire crisis in the province at the time.