Warren Smokey Thomas and Eddy Almeida

More than ever, education is key to Ontario’s success

OPSEU/SEFPO is extremely proud to represent tens of thousands of members who work in a wide variety of roles in education. On the third International Day of Education, January 25, we salute and thank each and every one of them for their extraordinary contributions to the success of Ontario and its people.

This year’s theme is “recover and revitalize education for the COVID-19 generation.” For 10 months and counting, our education members have stepped up to the plate to ensure students continue to experience quality education, both online and face-to-face. We admire their courage and flexibility, as do Ontarians everywhere.

In the coming months, the College Employer Council will have an opportunity to recognize, in a very concrete way, the heroic efforts of our college members to keep the wheels of post-secondary education rolling. CAAT faculty and part-time support staff will be negotiating new collective agreements. Protecting quality education in these difficult times must be at the centre of all discussions.

The government must also recognize that, even before the pandemic, education at every level was suffering from historically low levels of funding. Notably, in the 1970s, the province funded three-quarters of colleges’ operating costs. Today, provincial funding has plunged to 40 per cent or less of operating costs. Per student, Ontario spends far less than the average of all the other provinces on post-secondary education. This disturbing trend must be immediately reversed.

It’s time Ontario reinvested in education. In the upcoming budget, the government will have a golden opportunity to do just that, not just for colleges and universities, but also by significantly increasing funding for our struggling primary and secondary public school system.

Our hardworking education support members are devoted to their students. But with wages among the lowest in public education, and as available resources continue to dwindle, some are faced with a stark choice: staying and doing what they love – or leaving so they can better provide for their families in another profession.

All eyes will be turning to our education system to help the province negotiate the economic upheaval that’s taking place. We’re talking about Ontario’s future prosperity and its ability to give Ontarians the ability to live, work and raise a family, just as they have in generations past.

On this International Day of Education, we want to once again express our appreciation to our dedicated education members, and we wish our members, other education employees and students a highly successful year.

In solidarity,

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida