Public statement from OSSTF: Ford government refuses to acknowledge slashing of 1/4 of high school classes and teachers

TORONTO, ON – May 16, 2019 — The Ford government refuses to acknowledge that its education “reform” is really about slashing 25% of Ontario’s high school teachers and the classes they teach, along with a still-uncertain number of education support staff. While Doug Ford and his government undermine Ontario’s world-renowned publicly funded education system, they insist on pointing the finger of blame at everyone but themselves.

Once again, this government is determined to offer nothing more than false narratives in their attempt to justify massive cuts to public education in Ontario. It is time to stop placing other priorities, like tax cuts for their wealthy friends, ahead of the needs of our students. Cuts will only lead to a reduction in services for students, including those for our most vulnerable and at-risk learners.

Locally, you may be seeing your MPPs hide behind a reframing of these cuts, labelling them as new investments and increased funding. These are nothing short of fairy tales; they take deep cuts and reimagine them as “protecting what matters most.” In fact, the $1.6 billion in attrition protection is only temporary, transitional funding that dries up over the next four years. As it disappears, the positions it temporarily protects also disappear. This temporary funding is, in fact, the smoking gun that points directly at the government’s intended cuts to staffing.

The Ford government is attempting to change the channel on the real education debate by claiming to introduce “financial literacy” into the curriculum when it has been there for years. They inflate the education budget by adding items that used to be accounted for elsewhere while failing to increase funding to keep up with inflation and enrolment growth.

The claim that “high school students will see their class size increase to 28” is a blatant falsehood.

The government is raising the average class size to 28, meaning some classes will balloon to 40 or 45 students. This is, in fact, not at all in line with other jurisdictions in the country.

Their spin accuses education workers, unions, parents, and school board employers of fear mongering, and claims we are circulating “myths and misconceptions.” The fact is, the Ford government is reducing per-pupil funding and passing it off as a cure-all and forward thinking approach to ensuring student success. But we know the truth.

Pressure on the government is mounting as members and allies across the province stand up and insist the government admit these are cuts, and call for the reversal of this ill-conceived plan. Our pressure is working and we will not be deterred.

OSSTF/FEESO continues to be steadfast in our efforts to stand up for public education and to call out the Ford plan for what it is: a devastating blow to students, education workers, and Ontario’s economic future. The true narrative is undeniable; a 25% reduction of teachers and cuts to other crucial staff who support our highest needs students are an assault on us all.