June 8, 2018 — Yesterday the people of Ontario elected a majority Progressive Conservative government. While this is not the result that many of us were hoping for, our Federation respects the democratic process. On that basis, on behalf of our members, I extend congratulations to Premier-Designate Doug Ford.
OSSTF/FEESO will be reaching out to the new government in an effort to establish a meaningful dialogue. To the extent they are willing to support the work our members do on behalf of students from junior kindergarten to university, we can have a productive relationship.
We will also, of course, tenaciously oppose any policies or measures that seek to undermine publicly funded education, be it through underfunding or any other means.
With this government, as with any other, our objective will always be to protect and enhance publicly funded education in Ontario.
April 26, 2018 — Every year beginning the first Monday in May, Ontario celebrates Education Week. This year, Education Week is from May 7 to May 11.
The theme of Education Week 2018, Public Education – It’s for Everyone, recognizes a publicly-funded education system is perhaps the province’s most important asset, and that we must continue to ensure that we meet the needs of all who rely on it in a rapidly growing and changing Ontario.
The celebration of Education Week was established by OSSTF/FEESO in 1930 to recognize and celebrate the essential role public education plays in the lives of communities all over the province. Within a few years Education Week was being celebrated across Canada, and today, thanks to OSSTF/FEESO’s initiative 88 years ago, it is officially recognized in Ontario and observed by education stakeholders throughout the province.
As part of Education Week, we celebrate Support Staff Appreciation Day on Wednesday, May 9. This is a day to recognize and celebrate the many and varied contributions that the team of secretaries, technicians, educational assistants, instructors, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, attendance counsellors, early childhood educators and the many others in education, make to Ontario’s publicly funded schools and universities as well as to Ontario’s students of all ages
Kevin Smith was presented with the Jennifer MacLean Health & Safety Award at AMPA 2018. Shown in picture are Pierre Cote (OSSTF General Secretary), Kevin Smith, Laura Turner (Provincial Health & Safety Committee Chair)
March 8, 2018 — Every year on March 8, members of OSSTF/FEESO join with women’s organizations, other unions, and workers around the globe to mark International Women’s Day.
It is a day on which we celebrate the immeasurable social, political, economic and cultural contributions and achievements of women in Canada and around the world, as well as the many significant advances in women’s rights brought about by the tireless work of activists throughout the years.
Many of those advances have come through gains made by unions. Provisions for pregnancy/parental leave, family care leave and pay equity all point to the important role that unions have played in improving the lives of women and their families.
But even as we celebrate these gains, we recognize that an enormous amount of work remains to be done. Wage discrimination persists, women are still disadvantaged by inadequate childcare programs, and in our legislative bodies, as well as in the world of business, women are still significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. As the recent Me Too and Time’s Up movements have dramatically underscored, sexual harassment and sexual assault are common experiences for far too many women, both in their workplaces and in their communities. Equal rights and formal protections may exist in legislation and in collective agreements, but as long as sexist and misogynist attitudes are allowed to persist, there will always be much more work to do in the struggle for true equality.
As education workers, OSSTF/FEESO members have always played a key role in advocating for and advancing the rights of women and girls. The first Federation motion supporting the principle of equal pay for equal work, in fact, was passed at our second annual meeting in 1920. Since the early 1990s we have paid specific attention to the issue of sexual harassment through the production of resources like The Joke’s Over and Still Not Laughing. And through our partnerships with organizations like the White Ribbon Campaign and coalitions advocating for pay equity and better childcare, as well as our involvement in campaigns such as Sisters in Spirit and Women’s Memorial Marches, we continue to advocate in our communities for women’s rights and equality.
Please join me today as we celebrate the achievements of women, and stand in support of the ongoing quest for women’s equality.