TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 1, 2014) - Today the Ontario government presented a budget carefully designed to distance itself from the agenda of austerity and restraint it has been following for the past two years. But while a softer tone and a few olive branches might entice some voters and pacify some critics, austerity is alive and well in Ontario when it comes to public education, according to Paul Elliott, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF/FEESO).
"This budget does nothing to restore the shortfall created by inadequate funding through the Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) announced in March," said Elliott, referring to the annual grants that provide funding for all Ontario school boards. "For our members, this means that the compensation cuts imposed in 2013 have been unilaterally extended by the government well beyond the end of the agreed-upon two-year term. By keeping our members frozen on the pay grid, the government is setting the stage for unnecessary conflict between OSSTF/FEESO and local school boards in September."
Elliott also noted that while the budget allows for a well-deserved salary increase for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) in the province's licensed child-care facilities, the salaries of ECEs working in the public education system, many of whom are members of OSSTF/FEESO, remain frozen while class sizes continue to grow.
"Our members have more than done their part," said Elliott, "but this government persists in treating public education workers in Ontario as easy targets for an agenda of restraint that even the government itself is no longer comfortable acknowledging."
Elliott concluded, "We were hoping that today's budget would reflect an understanding that solid and stable investment in public education benefits each and every citizen of Ontario, both now and in the future. We are disappointed that the government has chosen once again to ignore the need for an adequately funded public education system in Ontario."
OSSTF/FEESO, founded in 1919, has 60,000 members across Ontario. They include public high school teachers, occasional teachers, educational assistants, continuing education teachers and instructors, early childhood educators, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, university support staff, and many others in education.