Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Top 10 Reasons Why Ontario's Austerity Budget is Misguided by ETFO Provincial

1. Austerity budgets don't work.
  • An Austerity budget is premised on the idea that government deficits can be eliminated by cutting spending, reducing benefits, and limiting public services.
  • Many leading economists argue that austerity measures actually have the opposite effect. That's been the experience in countries including Britain, Italy and Spain.
  "The notion that instead of increasing government spending to fight recessions, you should slash spending instead...represents a stunning failure of policy."  - Economist Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner.

2. Ontario is not in a 'fiscal crisis'.
According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative's (CCPA) latest report,  "Ontario Fiscal Reality- Cup Half Empty or Half Full', Ontario is not in a fiscal crisis:
  • The province is slowly recovering from the worst recession since the 1930s.
  • Ontario's forecasts have consistently overestimated the deficit.
  • Five pessimistic assumptions by the Drummond Commission have turned a $6.4 billion projected deficit in 2017-2018 into a $30.1 billion 'catastrophe'.
  • That projection has set the stage for massive cuts to public services, without debate or public consultation.

3.  Ontario has a revenue problem, not a spending problem.   
  • Ontario actually spends less per capita overall than any other province.
  • Ontario has lost $15 billion a year because of deep tax cuts for corporations.
  • The top 1% of earners in Canada now pay a smaller share of their incomes in taxes than the 10% with the lowest income. (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - website)
  "Spending is neither out of control nor wildly excessive. Ontario runs one of the lowest-cost provincial governments in Canada relative to its GDP and has done so for decades" - Drummond Commission

4. Investment in public infrastructure has always put us on the road to economic recovery.
  • Investment in communities and public services like health care, education, family services, transportation, and clean water and air is what has always helped put us on the road to economic recovery.
  • These investments create jobs, provide people with disposable income to pay taxes and support local economies.
  • They create more jobs than corporate tax cuts or personal income tax cuts.
  "Governments shouldn't be aggressively cutting spending when the economy is gasping for air... That's certainly the wrong prescription." - Douglas Porter - Chief Economist BMO/Nesbitt Burns

5.  Public services didn't create Ontario's budget deficit. 
  • Public sector wages have steadily declined as a share of provincial spending since 1981.
  • The deficit was caused by financial sector speculation, the global recession, and the subsequent bail-outs of companies.
  • The failure to reverse the tax cuts of the Harris era is costing the province $16 billion each year in lost revenues. ('Ontario's Fiscal Reality', CCPA, 2012)

6.  Ontarians didn't vote for an austerity budget.
  • In numerous polls, Ontarians have consistently said they are willing to pay more taxes for better public services.
  "Ontarians voted for a deficit reduction timetable in which program spending would be controlled at an annual rate below 2%, and in which the deficit is eliminated slowly but gradually.  They expressed no support...that the province should take harsher measures." 
                                           CAW economist Jim Stanford.

7.  Austerity is tearing the social fabric of what makes Ontario a great place to live.
  • Austerity measures depend on cutting public spending, and limiting public services.
  • From roads to transit, health and education, clean water and air, hydro, and services for families and children, public services build a good quality of life.
  • On average, Canadians receive over $17,000 per capita from public services, according to the CCPA. With any cuts, those benefits start to disappear.

8.  The budget targets the poor and vulnerable.
  • Freezing social assistance and delaying increases in the Ontario child tax benefits, in effect, amount to real cuts, given that the inflation rate has been running at about 2%.
  • People, especially the poor and vulnerable, depend on public services like health care and home care, elder care and child care.

9.  Austerity plans will take a toll on women.
  • About eight in 10 financial, administrative, and secretarial workers employed in education, health care, and other public services are women.  Any shrinking of the the public service is going to have an adverse impact on them. 
  • The government's intent to freeze salaries and reduce benefits will affect a larger percentage of women. This is particularly so in professions like teaching, health care, home care and child care where a majority of workers are women.

10.  Ontario needs a strong middle class for a strong economy.
  • By stripping wages and benefits of public sector workers, the government will further erode good jobs in the province.
  • Along with 450,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the last decade, private sector wages and benefits have shrunk. Thousands of good jobs have been contracted out and turned into part-time and itinerant work.
  • We need to champion good wages, benefits and pensions for ALL Ontarians, so that they can raise a family, retire in dignity and contribute to the provincial economy.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Practicing Caution: Guidelines for Electronic Communications

The opportunities to use social media and electronic communication for pedagogical purposes continue to expand on an almost daily basis.  Social media offers teachers exciting new ways to engage with students, parents and the wider school community.  While embracing these new opportunities makes pedagogical sense, expectations on us professionally dictate that we do so with proper safeguards in place and a vigilant eye to maintaining the standards of our profession.
When considering using social media to communicate with students, parents, or others in the school community, it is important to remember that the technology does not change the role of teachers and their professional obligations.  The principles that have traditionally governed how teachers communicate with the school community have not changed: professionalism, accountability, and boundaries continue to apply.  Always remember that material posted online, whether via e-mail, Facebook, blogging, twitter, or other media, is never truly erased.  If you would not utter a phrase or raise a particular topic in your classroom or in the presence of your principal or a parent, then do not communicate it by electronic means. 
At least three scenarios have pitfalls that demand teachers exercise caution: teachers communicating with individual students, parents, or the wider school community, through Facebook or other social media; teachers being careless about their personal use of social networking sites or what is posted about them; teachers failing to recognize social networking websites as an arena for potential cyber-bullying.

Tips: Given the potentially serious consequences of misusing e-mail and social networking sites here are some tips to consider:
  • if you use social media as a teaching tool ensure that the proper safeguards are in place, including providing access to school administrators and parents;
  • avoid communicating with individual parents/students through e-mail or social networking sites;
  • never use your personal account to friend students or parents;
  • if you communicate electronically, only do so from your board e-mail account and maintain the highest standards of professionalism;
  • be vigilant in monitoring what is posted about yourself online.
By the Professional Relations Services of ETFO.

Notes to members:

  • Pay Ontario College of Teachers' fee by April 15th.  Those in an LTO assignment on January first will have had their fees automatically deducted by payroll
  • Complete online Statement of Intent to Remain on the List by April 30th > Employee Portal
  • Teach at least five (5) full days in an elementary site
  • Complete Annual Offence Declaration on Employee Portal
  • Complete mandatory online training by June 29, 2012
  • Notify TVDSB of any changes to name, address and telephone number
  Upcoming events:
Designated paid PA Day at Althouse College on April 20th!
Registration is open and sessions are filling up.  Avoid disappointment and register today. 
Earn a day's pay while you learn.
Register on-line via the TVDSB Employee Portal.  Once logged in, click on "Registration Access" and make your selections.  Don't overlook the plenary morning session with Karen Greenham, formerly of TVDSB and Dr. Peter Jaffe.  Shuttle buses will run from the Huron Flats parking lot at UWO.

Spring General Meeting and Banquet on May 24, 2012 at the Best Western Lamplighter Inn.  Always a wonderful opportunity to socialize and meet fellow OTs, this meeting will provide current information leading up to Collective Bargaining discussions.  Please register on-line at

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Collective Bargaining 2012 - Control your Future

See the story of our union and the gains we have made through solidarity in collective bargaining and political action in this video that depicts the history of ETFO. “It’s Elementary” is an entertaining and informative history lesson about the Federation and the gains we’ve made through solidarity in collective bargaining and political action.   Here’s a direct link to “It’s Elementary”:

ETFO President Sam Hammond wants members to know:

On Wednesday, February 15, 2012, ETFO received a memo from the government outlining its timetable for a Provincial Discussion Table (PDT) for settling our collective agreements for this round of bargaining.  A teleconference was held on February 21 with the Premier and the Minister of Education.  The Premier stated that there would be provisions in the government's proposal that our members "would not like".
Most notably:
  • A two-year term for the next collective agreement with a 0% salary increase in each year.
  • No more sick leave banks. Each teacher to receive 6 days per year at 100% salary and 24 weeks at 2/3 salary, not accumulated or carried forward.
  • All teachers currently working their way either up or across the salary grid to be frozen in place for two years with no future adjustments to recognize the missed steps.
The proposed PDT process is not part of the collective bargaining process set out in the Ontario Labour Relations Act.  ETFO will continue to exercise our right under that Act to negotiate a collective agreement with each school board.  We will be kept informed as events unfold.

Closer to home, our February PD boutique-style PD sessions were met with resounding success.  Registration for all sessions were filled to capacity, with waiting lists for most.  We are pleased to be able to offer these high-quality professional development workshops and will continue to do so whenever we can. 

Over 88 registrants will be at the Lamplighter Inn in London for our Focus on Math PD Event taking place this evening from 4:30 - 7:30 PM.  Dinner will be provided in common and then participants will break out into 3 different workshops all revolving on Math. 

Registration for both the Designated Paid PA Event at Althouse College on April 20, 2012 and the Spring General Meeting on May 24th, 2012 is open and filling quickly.

Registration for Althouse is completed via the Employee Portal on the Boards website and the Spring General Meeting on

Avoid disappointment - register today!

The Wednesday Blog will not be posted during the March break. 
The next posting will be Wednesday March 21.

Enjoy your March Break!!!!