Today’s announcement of proposed legislation to dictate the terms and processes for labour negotiations in Ontario’s public schools attempts to infringe upon the democratic role and historic success of education in this province.
The bargaining process currently in place in Ontario works when school board employers and employees can sit down together to negotiate issues best understood by those parties. As the four associations representing English-Public, French-Public, English-Catholic and French Catholic schools, OPSBA, ACEPO, AFOCSC, & OCSTA strongly oppose any legislation that would supersede the local collective bargaining process. School boards and their local employee groups understand the needs of students in their communities and have the moral and legal responsibility to represent their interests.
The proposed legislation announced today attempts to over-ride several important pieces of legislation that have governed rights and protected citizens over many decades. The content of the proposed legislation does not put students first, despite its title.
We feel strongly that the parents of Ontario expect school boards to protect the quality of education in the classroom and the future of the education system by making decisions that are not driven by political expediency but are focused squarely on what is in the best interests of students and teachers in the classroom.
Our Associations agree with the concerns that have been expressed publicly by Directors, Supervisory Officers, trustees and school boards around the elimination of professional development days, the restrictions placed on the system-wide use of diagnostic assessment data, the introduction of seniority as a key determining factor in the hiring practice, the removal of the enhancement monies in order to achieve financial targets and, specifically in regards to the AEFO agreement, the supervision parameters.
School boards in this province are committed to doing their part in Ontario’s current fiscal climate, but cannot and will not endorse a course of action that jeopardizes the education of students and the role of school boards in the democratic process.
We urge the government to respect the law and to work in an environment of mutual respect with its partners in education.
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