thumb-2022-11-014
thumb-2022-11-014 This article is more than 1 year old
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
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

thumb-2024-07-07-lcbo-george-soleas New

Take Back Alberta Leaders are Training ‘Scrutineers’ to Infiltrate Campaigns and Act as ‘Security’ on Voting Day

Related Stories

Analysis

7 Times Alberta Premier Danielle Smith Embraced Extreme, Inflammatory or Dangerous Rhetoric

View the post
Analysis

Sikh Groups Say Globe and Mail Reporting on 2021 Kabul Evacuation is Missing Context and Promotes Racist Tropes

View the post
Analysis

Doug Ford’s Alcohol Privatization Plan Will Cost Ontario Taxpayers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars. Now It’s Forcing LCBO Workers To Go On Strike.

View the post
Our free email newsletter delivers award-winning journalism directly to your inbox.
Get Canadian Investigative News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers.
Our free email newsletter delivers award-winning journalism to your inbox.
Get Canadian Investigative News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers.