"Catholic teachers join in solidarity with the Ontario School Board Council of Unions’ (OSBCU) 55,000 Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) education worker members, as they fight for a fair agreement that supports their frontline education workers and the students they serve, free from the Ford government’s heavy-handed legislative interference.
The Ford government’s decision to use legislation to impose a collective agreement violates the Charter rights of OSBCU members to free, fair, and meaningful collective bargaining. Furthermore, the use of the notwithstanding clause to further trample workers’ constitutional rights is shameful, but not unexpected. This is a government with a long history of repeatedly and deliberately neglecting students, families, education workers, and teachers, turning its back on all Ontarians.
The Ford government failed Ontarians during the pandemic, when its irresponsible mismanagement led to the longest in-person learning disruption in North America. It failed Ontarians when it previously invoked the notwithstanding clause for the first time in the province’s history through Bill 307 to silence Ontarians, in an attempt to shield itself from legitimate criticism. It failed Ontarians when it prioritized $365 million in one-time payouts, instead of the real investments students desperately need for a robust learning recovery. And it failed Ontarians by doubling down on plans to shortchange students by underspending on education by almost $6 billion over the next five years, as recently uncovered in a report by Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO). The same FAO report projects a budget surplus this year, and further surpluses for the next five years, eventually growing to $8.5 billion – raising questions as to why the Ford government keeps prioritizing austerity at the cost of student well-being and success.
The Ford government’s decision to legislatively impose a contract on OSBCU education workers, and to invoke the notwithstanding clause for the second time in Ontario’s history, is another flagrant abuse of power.
As Catholic teachers, we remain committed, as always, to working throughout the bargaining process to realize a fair agreement that achieves the best for our students, teachers, and families, recognizing that educators’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.
But we need a partner in government that values publicly funded education and the collective bargaining process – the free, fair, and meaningful exchange of ideas that strengthens schools, improves learning conditions, and respects workers’ rights.
Ontario’s educators know what students need to succeed. It is past time that the government listened to and respected educators’ voices, which is why we urge Premier Doug Ford to immediately abandon this draconian legislation and to commit to working collaboratively to achieve fair agreements that support all educators and students."
- Barb Dobrowolski, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association