Back in early February 2020, a poll by Campaign Research found that most Ontarians were not for the government raising teachers’ salaries by 2 percent, many of the same people however supported teachers on issues related to class size and e-learning. While many parents cheer as the government has backed off e-learning, they may rue to regret it if coronavirus forces school closures like it has in Italy, China and South Korea. In these countries, millions of students, rich and poor are relying on e-learning to ensure they don’t lose out academically.
China’s three biggest telecoms operators- China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom as well as tech companies like Huawei, Baidu and Alibaba have backed up the platform with 90 terabytes of bandwidth and 7,000 servers, ensuring up to 50 million students can use it simultaneously. About 600,000 teachers have also been using a livestreaming service called DingTalk, built by Alibaba, to conduct online classes.
Primary school children are now attending class via television.
If such a scenario unfolds in Ontario, our system and students will be ill-prepared. The only thing students will be doing is playing games on the internet and chatting on social media. If anything, e-learning modules should be created so students in the future can simply continue learning even if school strikes or virus outbreaks disrupts schools for months.
Forget about teachers going on strike, the government of Canada should be preparing to ensure education for all students in the event of a national emergency that could keep students from attending school for long periods of time. Students and parents should be prepared not just to take a couple of e-learning courses but perhaps all their courses.
Now that the government has dealt with the fringe issues like class size and e-learning, the teachers’ unions are forced to reveal the real cause of their strike action- compensation.
Teachers want a 2 per cent increase in salary while the government won’t go above 1 per cent.
I think both parties are wrong. Teachers should be allowed the opportunity to ‘earn’ a 4 per cent increase. Currently the system doesn’t allow for grading teachers. Regardless whether a teacher is fantastic, average or bad, they all end up getting the same wage increase and salary bumps depending on seniority.
What if a teacher could potentially earn a wage increase of 4 per cent if he or she went over and beyond the call of duty?
I am sure there are many teachers who routinely do more than is asked of them and they should be recognized for their contributions and given up to 4 percent salary increases. Why should they get the same as a lazy teacher? Performance should be a factor in determining one’s wage increase whether one is a teacher or a nurse or a call centre employee.
South Asian retirees
Recently I met a South Asian couple in their early 50s living in Mississauga who planned on retiring from their public-sector jobs within three to five years. Like most successful immigrants, they currently live in a 3,600 sq. ft home and plan on downsizing since their children are now in university and the house now seems way too big, expensive to maintain and upkeep is a drain on their time.
They ended up booking a townhouse complex in the southern part of Mississauga and will get possession in about three years in time for their retirement.
The idea is to have a small manageable dwelling that they can lock up and leave on extended vacations especially in winter. They would also consider renting out a portion of the house on Airbnb.
As a large wave of South Asians in Peel Region approach retirement age, everyone seems to be thinking about the next phase of life.
The only thing that shocked the couple downsizing was the fact that the townhouse which is less than half the size of their current home will end up costing about the same as a detached home. While many current occupants on McMansions may understandably balk at paying more for less, there are advantages. For example, the location of new townhouse complexes and condos tend to be clustered around transit systems making car ownership quite redundant. The couple making such a move is planning on abandoning their two vehicles and embrace public transit and Uber to get around.
In a way, they’ve embraced the lifestyle of their millennial kids who’ve for years been encouraging them to get with the program!