The minority government at Queen’s Park means Ontario could face an election this school year. ETFO members may still harbour strong feelings about the Liberal government’s attack on collective bargaining rights and the failure of anyone in the legislature to vigorously defend them, but we should not overlook the bigger threat to the public sector and to unions: the agenda of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.
Gearing Up for Election 2018
ETFO members have been doing incredible solidarity work over the past few months. Along with the work we do in our locals every day, we have stood up with members of our communities who are fighting for decent and affordable housing, shown our solidarity with women marching for women’s rights, and campaigned in support of Tim Horton’s and other workers who are facing employers that are penalizing them for the minimum wage increase.
All of these issues stand to remind us of the importance of the upcoming provincial election. We need to elect a government that will be committed to decent work, a well-funded public education system, better public services and a strong social safety net for all Ontarians.
The election is set for June 7, 2018. This year will stand as a true test of our strength and solidarity, since changes to election finance rules mean that the greatest impact we will have on the outcome is through direct member involvement. In many ways, this is an incredible opportunity. The reality, as Hamilton City Councillor and social justice advocate Matthew Green pointed out at February Representative Council, is that the power to make change rests in the organizing we do within our union and in solidarity with other labour and community groups.
There are a number of ways for ETFO members to get involved and make a difference in this election. The first is to visit BuildingBetterSchools.ca/vote to pledge to vote for fair funding. Registering with BuildingBetterSchools.ca will give you a direct connection to our campaign, as well as information on how you can get more involved locally and provincially.
You can also make a donation to the political party or candidate of your choice. Donations vastly improve the prospects of candidates and you get a significant part of your contribution back through a tax deduction. Members can also contact a party or candidate to become a campaign volunteer. ETFO members are uniquely positioned to talk to members of the community about the issues that affect them and the platform of the political party that they support. The election is a chance to transfer your professional skills to important political campaign work.
Members can also get involved through their locals, many of which are taking part in campaign training and canvassing through the Ontario Federation of Labour. As educators, we have the skills to talk to our communities about the importance of education and other issues that matter to us in this election. Check with your local about canvassing on weekends or after school.
We are also collecting your stories about the classroom and the importance of fixing the funding formula at BuildingBetterSchools.ca/YourStory. You are the most trusted voice in education and we want you to share your ideas and stories. Check BuildingBetterSchools.ca as the election nears; we will have a tool to facilitate writing letters to the editor and other ways of sharing your ideas. Your voice, your stories and your experiences are the most relevant and trusted threads we can bring to the discussion about better public education and the need for fairness and equity for all Ontarians.
If the violence survey we conducted earlier this year tells us anything, it is that we must ensure that we have fair funding for every school in Ontario. It is the only way to guarantee safe and healthy working and learning conditions for our members and our students. This means electing a government that is committed to better public education. Only a fair funding formula will ensure that all of our students receive the attention and resources they need. As a union of 80,000 strong, as members of a broader labour community, and with a growing number of community allies, we have the power to influence this election for the better. Take this opportunity to do your part.
– Sam Hammond
I’d like to begin the last column of this school year by saying a big thank you to our members.