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“Written in the Scars” video shows how understaffing leads to violence in schools for OPSEU/SEFPO education workers

October 27, 2022

TORONTO – OPSEU/SEFPO released a short video today, Written in the Scars, featuring education workers who have experienced violence in schools – their workplaces – because of severe understaffing caused by low wages, unsafe working conditions and underfunding.

The video was released on the heels of Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s announcement last week that the Ford government is diverting hundreds of millions of dollars from desperately needed classroom funding to make small, one-time payments to parents for private tutors.

“It is truly disheartening to education workers who support students with the most complex needs,” said Sandra Cadeau, OPSEU/SEFPO Boards of Education Sector Chair. “It’s disgusting to see the Minister of Education promoting his payout to parents. That $365 million could have been invested into schools, programs and staff. It would have genuinely benefitted the students we support.”

OPSEU/SEFPO education workers are in bargaining with the province, as part of the Ontario Council of Education Workers (OCEW). They are drawing the connections between low pay, understaffing, and the violence that results when there aren’t enough education workers to provide supports to students at school.

“Every day we are experiencing violent incidents and classroom evacuations for the safety of other students and education workers,” said Cadeau. “Our system has normalized what is happening instead of dealing with the real issue. We need more education workers, more training, and more supports for programs to ensure the safety and success of all our students and staff.”

The average salary for education workers is $39,000 per year. More violent incidents are reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) by Educational Assistants than any other occupation, including police and correctional workers.

“Violence is not ‘part of the job’ for education workers,” said JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President. “By supporting students more, we can prevent violence. That means hiring enough education workers and investing in programs for students who need them, so they can flourish at school. It also means paying education workers fair wages in order to retain them.”

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Media contacts:

Sandra Cadeau, Chair, OPSEU/SEFPO Sector 3, Boards of Education, 705-427-6302
JP Hornick, President, OPSEU/SEFPO, 416-806-9526