The true cost of outrageous cuts
Published Jan. 28, 2020
To the Editor,
Enough is enough! I am furious that the Ford government is continuing to blame the members of the educational community for the current political strife. According to a document on BlogTO, published Oct. 10, 2019, the top 28 deputy ministers’ earnings ranged from $234,080, to a maximum of $320,130. This salary has now been raised to $326,560, with opportunities for bonuses, for performance related to “increased efficiencies.”
According to a CBC news report Oct. 16, 2019, the Ford government voted themselves a 14 per cent raise retroactive to June 30, 2018. Note that the Ford government prorogued themselves in May 2019 and did not return to work for five months, the end of October 2019. The government was absent with pay – the longest break in provincial government in over 25 years.
Global News reported Nov. 8, 2019, on a one per cent cap on public sector wage increases for three years (a 13 per cent difference from the retroactive 14 per cent for elected officials). This affects more than one million public sector workers, including employees of school boards, universities and colleges, hospitals, long-term care homes and other organizations. Further, the Ford government rolled back the minimum wage from $15 to $14 an hour until October 2020 and also cut two paid personal leave days.
An article in the Toronto Star on June 13, 2019 stated that in the year since they came to power, there had been a “sweeping array of funding cuts to Ontario services, programs, non-governmental organizations and projects, in an effort to eliminate an $11.7 billion deficit.” This included cuts to health care, environmental projects, legal aid, research and tourism. Such hypocrisy! Why not start with cutting the retroactive 14 per cent pay increase and set an example?
Three-thousand-four-hundred-seventy-five teaching positions are slated to be eliminated over the next four years – ostensibly to save $857 million; $131 million is scheduled to be cut from the education budget in the 2019-202 school year alone. How much will the education minister receive in bonuses for his performance related to “efficiencies” this year? Yet both the premier and the minister of education asserted that no teaching staff would be laid off – these cuts would be achieved through attrition. How does that statement relate to all the education workers who have already received pink slips?
In December 2018, the minister of education said that $25 million would be cut from education programs in the elementary and secondary panels for the 2018-2019 school year. If the government had not been absent with pay for five months in 2019, in all likelihood the issues facing the educational community could and would have been resolved before school began again in September 2019.
This means any disruption to the excellent, person-to-person education which most of our students receive would have been avoided. No disruptions would have occurred. The wide spectrum of students with special educational needs continue to suffer from withdrawal of appropriate supports, due to the withdrawal of funding for these supports.
The disruption to parents’ work schedules and the ensuing issues of child care would never have happened. Resolving these issues by staying on the job during those five months would have eliminated the projected $48 million-a-day costs for “alternate daycare” (an insult to parents and education workers alike). These monies (found from which “efficiency”?) should be being used to support and augment programs and staffing currently in place. Or, here’s an idea: reinstate staff and programs which have already been eliminated.
No. The blame should be placed squarely where it belongs: on the Ford government, its self-serving mandate, its lack of foresight and understanding of the true cost of the outrageous cuts, its skewed policies and its blatant election lies, that there would be no cuts to education and no jobs lost.
By continuing to resist these draconian measures across the political landscape, teachers (not computers) continue to teach.