Unifor members showed up in force to lend their voices to the thousands who attended the Rally for Education to oppose devastating changes to Ontario’s education system by the Conservative government.
“It is clear that Ford is hell-bent on implementing his corporate agenda with no qualms about injuring the most vulnerable or tearing down cherished institutions, as witnessed by his attack on elementary and highschool students and their teachers,” said National President Jerry Dias.
After a mass student walkout on Thursday, protesters filled the lawn of the Queen’s Park legislature on Saturday April 6, 2019, spilling out onto surrounding streets. Teachers, parents, students and workers united to demand a halt to plans to increase class sizes and eliminate thousands of teacher and support jobs.
Education Ministry memos acquired by the Toronto Star report that the Conservatives plan to cut 3,475 teaching jobs in Ontario. The average secondary school expected to see a loss of 11 full time teachers.
The Conservative government intends to:
- Increase class sizes in grades 4-8 and in high school; reducing attention given to students and limiting access to equipment and other resources
- Cut thousands of teacher and support staff jobs
- Remove 1.4 billion dollars from the public education system
- Download the government’s duty to support higher needs students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) onto schools without adequate funding
- Require students to take several online courses; replacing personal attention with e-learning
- Introduce a regressive sexual education curriculum
“Doug Ford is risking the future of students by eroding the very foundation of the public education system,” said Dias. “The people of Ontario will not tolerate this attack on our schools, our teachers and our children.”
The massive rally, organized by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSS), the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and sister unions followed province-wide student walkouts to protest the cuts to elementary and highschool education. In response, Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Lisa Thompson opted to attack workers instead of responding to the legitimate concerns of the tens of thousands of students who expressed their opposition.
“Ontarians, including high school and post-secondary students, are organizing massively successful grassroots actions to demonstrate opposition to the Conservatives’ destructive agenda,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “I commend the brave young activists who have organized rallies, walkouts, and strikes. Students and teachers deserve respect and acknowledgement from their government, not dismissal and cruelty.”
This is not the first time that Ford’s government has shown distain for students and public education. In addition to the changes at elementary and highschools the Ford government has also targeted postsecondary students by slashing OSAP, cutting $307.3 million in funding, cancelling three university satellite campuses and attacking students’ unions by forcing institutions to allow opt-out of democratically determined fees.
“Ontario workers are standing united against these cuts,” said Dias. “Unifor is in solidarity with students, teachers, and their unions.”
View a photo gallery of the Rally for Education here