Rally at MPP Thompson’s Office Draws Good Crowd

The Ontario Government of Doug Ford has been wrecking ball of repugnant attacks on education, healthcare, labour law, health and safety law, the environment, Indigenous relations and much more. In addition, the Ford government’s handling of the provincial coffers has lead to 60 percent of Ontario residents seeing the government as corrupt (according to recent media stories). The Ford government, elected by a minority of Ontario voters, has acted without a mandate on numerous initiatives.

The government is now taking a five month holiday from Queen’s Park. This is not necessarily bad as when they are not in session they cannot enact more regressive legislation. Legislation that hurts many, but makes the narrow cross section of Ontario Conservatives still supporting the Ford government happy. Why would this narrow cross section be happy with the most regressive government in a generation? As this narrow cross section is #notforthepeople, they will be recipients of the Ford version of the gravy train.

Rallies such as that today at #LisaThompsonnotforthepeople office and the August 13th rally at #BillWalkernotforthepeople office in Owen Sound is to tell these MPP’s that when they do return to work, we will be waiting for them and we will hold them accountable.

Many thanks to all the affiliate unions that attended today, The Society of United Professionals, OSSTF, OECTA, the PWU, OPSEU, Unifor, but a huge “shout out” to the Society for showing up in large numbers.

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Published on June 20 2019 Bruce Power Local members of the Society of United Professionals voted an overwhelming 97 percent in favour of striking last night

https://www.brucebargaining.ca/97_strike_mandate?fbclid=IwAR2y9e3W8ARb8h6oIW5ccfHGiJaTps3M0MXAQ8cT_SpnOjwpv40OFlJoF-c

97% Strike Mandate

Bruce Power Local members of the Society of United Professionals voted an overwhelming 97 percent in favour of striking last night. The 1,200-member local, which represents Bruce Power engineers, supervisors and other professional workers, has been in contract renewal negotiations with Bruce Power since November.

“A 97 percent strike vote is an overwhelming mandate for our bargaining team and I hope the company takes this as a sign that it’s time to come back to the bargaining table with a fair offer,” said Bruce Power Local Vice President Mike Gade, who is leading negotiations for the union. “As local residents, our members are deeply committed to the Bruce and Grey communities. With this strike vote, we want our friends and neighbours to know that we are willing to do what it takes to keep good jobs here today and for generations to come,” continued Gade.

Key issues at the bargaining table include ensuring good jobs for the next generation of Bruce Power employees, career development opportunities, and improving health and safety at the plant.

A Ministry of Labour-appointed conciliator will assist negotiations in sessions scheduled for June 24-26. If the parties cannot come to an agreement during that time, a “no-board report” will be issued. On the 17th day following the issue of a no-board report the parties would be in a legal strike-lockout position.

For more information, Society members are asked to contact your Delegate or Communication Action Network (CAN) representative.

Activists: Get ready for rural school closings under Doug Ford government

Activists: Get ready for rural school closings under Doug Ford Tories

The continuing battle over school closings will erupt anew across Southwestern Ontario unless funding criteria are overhauled to better fit small communities, a rural education advocate says.

Susan MacKenzie and a fellow advocate, Community Schools Alliance chair Doug Reycraft, are warning that proposed increases to class sizes represent a “dire threat” that will harm students, their families and the economic viability of their communities.

“If you look at simple math, increasing class sizes will create empty pupil spaces and empty class spaces,” said MacKenzie, a Londoner who co-founded the Ontario Alliance Against School Closures in 2016.

“It all comes down to a flawed funding formula that puts rural schools at a disadvantage.”

With class sizes about to surge over the next four years, boosting the average by six students to 28 in high schools and by one to 24 in all but the lowest elementary grades, rural communities – such as North Middlesex, whose local politicians recently penned a letter to Ontario’s education ministry – are fretting.

School closings were stopped by the previous provincial Liberal government in 2017 – a moratorium that has been upheld by Premier Doug Ford’s government so far – and they remain a contentious topic.

Provincewide, hundreds of schools have closed or merged in recent decades, the result of shifting demographics and smaller families. Roughly 300 Ontario schools were slated for closing leading up to the moratorium, MacKenzie says, and about 100 of them have been shuttered.

In Southwestern Ontario, 12 schools boards have had to grapple with the expense of about 55,000 empty student spaces.

MacKenzie, who fought against the closing of her children’s Sarnia school 20 years ago, warns more closings are inevitable. Her group, which she said has been unable to get a meeting with Education Minister Lisa Thompson, believes the loss of rural schools will hammer agricultural and northern settlements.

“Our farming communities are vital and need services such as education and schools in order to thrive,” she said.

MacKenzie’s comments come after municipal officials in North Middlesex – home to 6,800 residents, northwest of London – and local school advocates sent a letter to Thompson calling for her to support a rural school strategy “that is locally developed” with Queen’s Park.

“We are a small rural municipality with some small schools – we have to be proactive,” North Middlesex Mayor Brian Ropp said in a phone interview. “We talked unofficially to other municipalities, and so have others, and many have the same concerns.”

Thompson, the MPP for Huron-Bruce, says her government “is committed to upholding the moratorium on school closures until the school closure review process is reformed.” In an email statement, she said the Ontario Tories “recognize that the needs of rural Ontario students and school boards are different from non-rural.”

School boards, she said, are projected to receive $4.96 billion in 2019-20 for the education of students in rural communities.

Meanwhile MacKenzie says “urban-centric boards” such as the Thames Valley District school board don’t bode well for rural communities such as North Middlesex.

“This board will target rural school for closure because they are generally smaller and under-capacity,” she said.

In an April letter to the education minister, Arlene Morell, chair of the Thames Valley District school board, said rural schools will be hardest hit by funding upheaval, resulting in more empty pupil places and negative effects on rural children and their communities.