Things are about to get ugly for high school teachers in northern Ontario. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) reports that Near North School Board is expected to issue layoff notices to over half of their high school teachers. This news is the latest of the Ontario teacher layoffs that are expected as a result of increased class sizes.
News broke out from Harvey Bischof, President of OSSTF, that of Near North School Board's 240 high school teachers, 121 of them will receive redundancy notices, which could potentially result in job layoffs.
Bischof reported in a news release, "This means that high schools and students across the Near North district could be losing fully half of their teachers before the next school year begins in September."
"This is an unprecedented number of potential layoffs in the Near North, and it is a direct result of the Ford government’s devastating cuts to publicly funded education in the province," explained Bischof.
"These numbers make a mockery of claims by Vic Fedeli, as well as by the premier and other ministers, that no frontline workers will lose their jobs as a result of these cuts."
Bischof also predicts "disastrous consequences" for students in the Near North district as a direct result of the cuts.
"Class sizes will balloon and hundreds of courses will no longer be available, severely constraining students’ options for planning their pathways to post-secondary learning. The adverse effects of these cuts will be amplified for smaller, rural schools with low enrolment, where program planning is a significant challenge under the best of circumstances."
The federation is urging Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli (who also acts as the MPP for Nipissing) "to acknowledge the devastating impacts his government’s cuts will have for students in his own riding and throughout the province." Fedeli responded to the union's claims by accusing the federation of "fearmongering".
He claimed, "This is simply more unnecessary fearmongering. We have taken great care to build a sustainable education plan where no teacher is being fired, despite what our opponents often claim."
Fedeli went on to comment, "In fact, the government will provide about $1.6 billion in additional funding between 2019-20 and 2022-23 to school boards for attrition protection to support maintaining teaching positions, where needed, so that reductions can be managed through teacher attrition and voluntary leaves."
Fedeli continued by explaining how the province is investing $1-billion to build 30,000 child care spaces in Ontario schools. "Our plan will ensure students leave school with the skills they need to get jobs, pay bills and start a family here in Ontario," he said.
“The 2019 Budget is a comprehensive and sustainable plan that balances the books in five years while protecting the critical public services Ontario families rely upon each and every day, such as health care and education.”