500 education workers at the Peel school board terminated in Mississauga and Brampton
Published September 10, 2023 at 11:31 am
The recent termination of nearly 500 education workers, including education assistants (EAs) and early childhood educators (ECEs) represented by OPSEU/SEFPO, at the Peel District School Board (PDSB) is causing disruption and instability in classrooms, according to union leaders.
On Sept. 9, OPSEU/SEFPO raised concerns about the cuts, given the ongoing problems of overcrowded classrooms and worsening facilities, leading to a shortage of substitutes for sick days or absences.
“These cuts hurt kids the most – kids who are already suffering with out-of-control class sizes and crumbling infrastructure,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick in a statement.
“Especially the youngest and most vulnerable students, and potentially making classrooms less safe,” Hornick added.
Currently, the Peel District School Board is struggling with a 30 per cent vacancy rate for EAs and ECEs, indicating there aren’t enough staff to provide classroom coverage when an EA or ECE cannot work.
The union is sounding the alarm, particularly with the return to school and the looming cold and flu season, which they believe will spell disaster for schools and families in Peel Region.
Melody Hurtubise, President of OPSEU/SEFPO Local 2100, mentioned the importance of these workers, stating, “every single one of these workers is needed. Like all school boards in Ontario, ours is already facing a critical shortage of education workers – many of them racialized women and single mothers.
Hurtubise emphasized that workers choose the profession out of deep care for students, even though they receive below-average wages.
“They ensure classrooms run smoothly, and they deserve the utmost respect – not their jobs slashed,” she said.
According to OPSEU/SEFPO, per pupil funding has declined since taking office in 2018.
Hornick criticized the government’s approach, describing it as corrupt and having misplaced priorities.
He called for an immediate reversal of the decision and urged the Ford government to prioritize students and education workers by negotiating for fair wage increases and ensuring safe staffing levels across Ontario, particularly in Peel.
“It’s never too late to do what’s right for our kids. Our members – many of whom are also parents and proud members of the Peel community – will continue to demand it,” Hornick said.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising