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The Sault Star

Fri Oct 12 2012

Section: Editorial/Opinion

On. Sept. 11, our Ontario government passed Bill 115, which completely violates the Charter of Rights of thousands of educational workers provincewide.

In addition to the thousands of elementary and secondary school teachers, this legislation affects 55,000 CUPE eduction support staff working in school boards in Ontario. This includes secretaries, custodians, educational assistants and early childhood educators.

The average income of CUPE workers in the education system is $38,000 per year. (The poverty line for a family of four in Ontario is $37,000.) Many of our educational assistants make much less than the average and do not have benefits or pensions. Also, many of our workers are single parents and/or the primaqry source of financial support in their families.

Education support workers get laid off for approximately three months every year (summer, Christmas and March break) and must rely on Employment Insurance to make it through these times. This will soon become even more daunting as the Canadian government has vowed to tighten the controls on so-called “seasonal workers.”

Education support staff are the backbone of our schools. They ensure our children can learn in a safe and clean environment and provide the additional supports students need to succeed.

Bill 115 is creating an unnecessary crisis in Ontario’s education system. The so-called “Putting Children First” bill does not put students first. All it does is freeze the budget for education in Ontario.

It is not providing additional educational resources for our students. It is not providing additional educational supports for our students.

It is our teachers and support staff who are putting students first on a daily basis.

Vicky Evans,

Secretary-treasurer, CUPE 4148