NORTH BAY - The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is sounding the alarm regarding possible teacher layoffs at the Near North School Board, and it looks ugly.
Harvey Bischof, President of OSSTF said in a news release that the Board will be issuing redundancy notices to 121 of its approximately 240 high school teachers.
"This means that high schools and students across the Near North district could be losing fully half of their teachers before the next school year begins in September," said Bischof.
"This is an unprecedented number of potential layoffs in the Near North, and it is a direct result of the Ford government’s devastating cuts to publicly funded education in the province," claimed Bischof. "These numbers make a mockery of claims by Vic Fedeli, as well as by the premier and other ministers, that no frontline workers will lose their jobs as a result of these cuts."
Bischof predicts "disastrous consequences" for students in the Near North district.
"Class sizes will balloon and hundreds of courses will no longer be available, severely constraining students’ options for planning their pathways to post-secondary learning. The adverse effects of these cuts will be amplified for smaller, rural schools with low enrolment, where program planning is a significant challenge under the best of circumstances."
The union is calling on Vic Fedeli, as Minister of Finance and as the MPP for Nipissing, "to acknowledge the devastating impacts his government’s cuts will have for students in his own riding and throughout the province."
Fedeli, in an email to BayToday, called the claims 'fearmongering.'
“This is simply more unnecessary fearmongering," he said. "We have taken great care to build a sustainable education plan where no teacher is being fired, despite what our opponents often claim.
“In fact, the government will provide about $1.6 billion in additional funding between 2019-20 and 2022-23 to school boards for attrition protection to support maintaining teaching positions, where needed, so that reductions can be managed through teacher attrition and voluntary leaves.
“The education budget increased by $700 million this year. And we are investing $13 billion over 10 years in capital improvements; $1.4 billion this year alone. As well we are investing $1 billion to build 30,000 child care spaces in our schools. Our plan will ensure students leave school with the skills they need to get jobs, pay bills and start a family here in Ontario.
“The 2019 Budget is a comprehensive and sustainable plan that balances the books in five years while protecting the critical public services Ontario families rely upon each and every day, such as health care and education.”