“We know that organizing works and that we are good at it.”
– CINDY GANGARAM, member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Teacher Local
September 2021 marks 18 months into the global COVID-19 crisis. This time has taken a significant toll on all of us. We saw how mismanagement of Ontario’s COVID-19 response as well as decades of cuts to public education and other public services deepened the crisis. It has been a long three years with this Conservative government. “Ford Nation” used every opportunity to fight educators, other public servants, working families and scientists, mismanage our resources and, frankly, waste our time. From the very beginning, we saw deliberate misinformation, confusion, lack of transparency, vague announcements, workers pleading for basic protections and attacks on our democratic rights.
The only way for us to ensure a just and equitable recovery and the safety and wellbeing of our communities is to organize, mobilize and vote for the government we need.
We know that change is possible, in fact throughout ETFO’s history we have seen how together we have made a difference to change different governments’ ill-conceived policy decisions. But change only comes through organizing and our collective efforts. We need to activate our people-power and build community campaigns that advance a bold progressive equity agenda.
The provincial election this June might feel far away but there is not a moment to spare. Now is the time to activate our communities, build coalitions with parents and allies and get ready to vote the Ford government out of power
Our work to build and strengthen a movement of educators and parents requires not only united and collective action, but also awareness building and sharing organizing tools to develop and strengthen our base of activists and change makers in every workplace across the province.
Since this summer, ETFO has engaged locals and activists to plant seeds and build a strong foundation for our 2022 provincial election campaign. This fall our training opportunities continue. Like every good campaign we must educate and develop members if we are serious about activating and mobilizing.
ETFO is supporting member engagement in the provincial election by offering organizing training throughout the year and providing regional staff support. Organizing training is open to all 86,000 of our members. We invite all designated early childhood educators, professional support personnel, occasional teachers and teachers to participate. Educators play a powerful role in their communities and are heard and respected on issues that affect students and their families including housing, paid sick days, food security and the importance of public services. Parents trust and listen to educators. That is why the Conservative government continues to launch attacks on our members. We have always stood up for the well-being of our public schools, our students and our broader communities. This year we are organizing, strengthening our relationships and building engagement. Everyone is welcome to get involved and there are so many ways to participate.
This summer we kicked off our first-ever Summer Organizing Training Series with these three 90-minute workshops:
Where’s the Power? – This workshop was on mapping power and identifying activists and leaders in diverse communities. Participants learned the importance of building broad and deep community support.
Effective Conversations with Members – This workshop taught members how to have conversations with voters. Participants were involved in role-playing scenarios that gave them the skills to help navigate difficult conversations with the public.
Canvassing 101 – In this workshop participants were guided through the different forms of voter outreach. Participants learned how to canvass communities virtually, go door-to-door and phone bank.
We will be continuing these workshops into the fall and winter. We are inspired by the positive response the workshops received and look forward to seeing you at our future events. Organizers will be letting members know about upcoming workshops through our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter, text blasts, the ETFO enewsletter and local executives.
Opportunities - Fall and Winter
This fall, we are building organizing caucuses in every region of the province. We know it has been a difficult and exhausting two years, but we hope members will find a renewed sense of energy and community by organizing together. What we can do today will have a significant impact on the coming election and the future for all of us.
ETFO is currently planning workshops focused on:
- Why organizing matters
- Organizing in a crisis
- How to talk about important issues
- How we build engagement with our members and neighbours
- Door knocking in the pandemic
- Building relationships and networking in the community
- Joining labour councils and their affiliates
- Expanding your knowledge of political engagement
- Developing new leaders and activists
- Strengthening your community
- Using digital tools to expand outreach.
Connect with Your Regional ETFO Organizer
ETFO organizers are here to help build engagement and organize our members regionally. Please connect with the organizer assigned to your region to learn how you can participate.
- Munib Sajjad is the Greater Toronto Area Organizer firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bob Hall is the Eastern Organizer email@example.com
- Aminah Sheikh is the North-Central Organizer firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joel Smith is the South-West Organizer email@example.com
Mobilize for Better Schools
In this election we have a chance to stop a government that does not support high quality public education. This is an opportunity to prevent further cuts and to protect our public schools and our communities. Together we can restore a just society that includes fairness for all workers, invests in our public services and public schools and ensures a better future for all of us.
This is only possible if we work together – get active today. Register to mobilize at BuildingBetterSchools.ca/mobilize and help to spread the word.
We look forward to organizing with you and together we can defeat this Conservative government.
Aminah Sheikh is an organizer at ETFO.