thumb-2022-11-014
thumb-2022-11-014
Analysis

Stephen Lecce Claims He Hired ‘1,800’ Education Workers. CUPE Says That’s ‘Not True’.

“It’s simply not true”

PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization that uncovers and unpacks the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.
Here is why you can trust our journalism ➔
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization that uncovers and unpacks the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.
Here is why you can trust our journalism.

The union representing Ontario’s educational assistants (EAs), Early Childhood Educators (ECEs), custodians, say Lecce’s claims of hiring 1,800 new frontline workers is either entirely new or entirely made up.

On Monday, educational staff represented by CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OBSCU) are headed back on strike after talks broke down over staffing and job security language.

As PressProgress reported previously, the union also sought to eliminate the expiration date in the agreement’s job security provisions, notably the Education Worker Protection Fund and the Support for Students Fund, set-up to protect roughly 1,500 jobs set ahead of the Ford government’s planned 2019 cuts.While the fund was extended into 2022, the Ford government’s latest proposal would merely extend it again for another four years.

When the union asked for the expiration date to be scrapped – making the jobs permanent – the government reportedly refused.

In response to the strike deadline, Education Minister Stephen Lecce denied claims job security was a main issue, telling one journalist: “I’ve never heard the word services, this has all been about pay.”

Elsewhere in the thread, the Minister claimed: “We offered to protect funds that have increased staffing levels across the province, funding 1800 education workers. CUPE declined it.”

Lecce has repeated this claim in several interviews, telling Power and Politics he is “offering to hire 1,800 additional CUPE workers every year.”

In the Legislature, Lecce said on November 1: “We are also going to be supporting the funding of the Support for Students Fund, which will establish and help create 875 teachers and 1,600 to 1,830 education workers – more workers in our schools to make a difference for our kids.”

However, the union representing those workers says it is unaware of any plans to hire an additional 1,800 members.

Sign Up for Our Labour Newsletter
Newspapers always have a business section – so why not a labour section too?
Sign Up for Our Labour Newsletter
Newspapers always have a business section – so why not a labour section too?

“It’s simply not true. The Ford government has not offered funding to hire additional education workers as part of these negotiations,” Rod McGee, first vice-president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) said.

“The government’s proposal was to continue the Support for Students Fund for the life of the collective agreement” McGee said. “But it was made absolutely clear to us at the bargaining table that this was to cover the cost of existing jobs, not to hire new education workers to provide the supports students need in schools.”

In fact, as PressProgress reported previously, the government fought to maintain the levels for both funds and refused requests for an additional $25 million fund. Both existing funds, moreover, themselves support fewer than 1,800 jobs currently.

In the imposed contract contained in Bill-28, which has since been rescinded, the SSF was set to increase by just 1.8% per year – far below the rate of inflation.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Our journalism is powered by readers like you.

We’re an award-winning non-profit news organization that covers topics like social and economic inequality, big business and labour, and right-wing extremism.

Help us build so we can bring to light stories that don’t get the attention they deserve from Canada’s big corporate media outlets.

 

Donate
Mitchell Thompson
Ontario Reporter
Mitchell Thompson is PressProgress’ Ontario reporter. His reporting has a special focus on workers and communities, and public services and privatization, and public accountability.

Most Shared

protest News

Doug Ford is Looking to Cut Costs in Healthcare Staffing, Documents Show

Related Stories

Analysis

Court Strikes Down Doug Ford’s Bill 124: Not ‘Justified’ In a ‘Free and Democratic Society’

View the post
Analysis

Why Pierre Poilievre’s Video Attacking Safe Supply is Misleading and Dangerous

View the post
Analysis

BC Public Schools Facing ‘Budget Shortfalls’ As Private Schools Receive Half a Billion in Public Subsidies

View the post

Explainers

Human rights & inclusion

Amira Elghawaby

Here’s The Problem With Hoping Corporations Will Be Socially and Environmentally Responsible On Their Own

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

The battle of the PACs in Calgary’s municipal election

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

27 Different Candidates are Vying to be Calgary’s Mayor. Here Are the Biggest Issues at Stake.

View the post
Newspapers always have a business section – why not a labour section? We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get Canadian Labour News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers.
We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get Canadian Labour News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers