Teachers’ union ad-blitz attacks Ford’s education changes

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As the province’s high school students head back to school next week, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) is going after the Premier Doug Ford in a perfectly-timed ad campaign attacking his education changes.

The 30-second ad, which started showing on major TV networks Monday, shows news headlines like “Ontario to lose 3,475 full-time teachers” and “cuts to arts, trades” over black-and-white shots of empty hallways and melancholy-looking students.

The ad-blitz claims that the changes to education will cost billions and the ads are aimed at parents of high school students and anyone who’s concerned about Ontario’s economy.

Ford’s government increased overall education spending by $700 million this year, from a total of $29.1 billion in 2018/19 to $29.8 billion for 2019/20.

However, unions say the government’s other policies — cuts to funds for high school programs and local priorities, larger class sizes and mandatory online courses — will mean 25 per cent fewer teachers in the system a few years from now.

Some school boards have cut hundreds of permanent teaching positions, attributing the layoffs to PC policies but also to school closures, openings and fluctuations in enrolment.

OSSTF will have to renegotiate teachers’ contracts with the government this fall, which could potentially result in a strike.

Negotiations haven’t begun yet because the union, school boards and the government couldn’t agree on which issues should be settled at the central bargaining table and which should be settled at local tables. All sides argued their cases at the Ontario Labour Board last week.

Given this ad-blitz it is highly likely that there could be potential strikes going into the coming school year. The battle lines are drawn and seem to be hardening on both sides. The question is who will blink first and the other question is who pays the price. The answer to the second is students who will ultimately bear the brunt of this crisis. -CINEWS

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