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ETFO Q&A Commentary; Does the union acknowledge that they are one of the highest paid in the world?

November 8, 2019

 

With a potential teacher’s strike on the horizon for Ontario parents, Muskoka Post sent some fairly poignant questions to Karin Bratina, the local Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario representative.

 

We were hoping to bring you a question and answer format, unfortunately not all were answered. The below questions stemmed from stats, facts and opinions. Also perhaps from the stand point that public employees overall are fairly well compensated, given that the majority of Canadians don’t have automatic pay increases, some don’t have benefits and most don’t have pensions.

 

Collectively our paycheques and businesses pay those salaries and benefits. So when the majority of the tax payers in this country, which economists speculate is heading for another recession, understand that inevitably their taxes will have to increase to accommodate a feeling of discomfort settles in. Perhaps this is at the very centre of the discourse between unions and some members of the public.

 

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organization with 36 member countries founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

 

The OECD’s data from 2018 and on indicates that Canadian teachers for both primary and secondary are in 3rd place out of 36 countries, at an average salary of $70,000. Luxembourg and Germany claimed first and second.

 

The argument has been made by many opinion writers that the teaching profession should be declared an essential service? We wanted to find out how the ETFO viewed this suggestion.

 

Sun Media columnist Mike Strobel wrote a column in 2015, same year the teachers union implemented strike action, and asked this essential question.

 

“Is education an essential service?

No. According to teachers and the powers that be. The future of our kids is not “essential?” Well that’s just nuts.”

 

As for the fact that parents might have to spend more on daycare during strike action or stay home and lose income, the reality of a teachers strike has a logical ripple economic effect.

 

The following were Muskoka Post’s questions to Bratina;

 

1. Does the teachers union acknowledge that Ontario's teachers are one of the highest paid in North America? 

 

2. Does the union object to being an essential service? 

 

3. What does the teachers union suggest if a parent cannot afford other child care arrangements during a strike and must take days off work, losing their income during the duration of the strike?

 

4. Does the teachers union acknowledge that every time there are contract re-negotiations a strike is threatened regardless of the government in power?

 

5. What points of contention would the union be striking over this negotiation term? 

 

Bratina responded in an email statement informing us that the union is “currently in negotiations.”

 

“Our priorities are more supports for children with special needs, smaller class sizes to allow for more one-on-one instruction for students and protection of the kindergarten program for our youngest students. We are looking to the government to make commitments on these issues so that we can come to a fair contract that addresses student learning conditions.”

 

Perhaps everyone should also fight equally as hard on both sides to fix the curriculum so that half of Ontario’s students are not failing the very basics of math.

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