KEMPTVILLE – Roughly one-sixth of the high school teachers with the Upper Canada District School board have been told they won’t be needed this September.
In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch Tuesday, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) District 26 President Elpis Law says over 100 teachers were given redundancy notices.
“We’re very sad and upset in a sense that last year was our year that we were coming out of declining enrollment and we only had three people that were on our redundancy list and now we’re back up to 100 so it’s a big shock,” Law told Newswatch.
The UCDSB has roughly 650 high school teachers across Eastern Ontario.
“It is a significant chunk.”
Law says those given notices will be able to apply for any open positions after June 28.
Because they have been given redundancy notices, those affected teachers don’t have any rights to bump a lower seniority teacher out of a position.
“Usually there’s more jobs hopefully that come up in September or end of August and they will be allowed to reapply. It’s just between now and the end of June they can’t apply for anything that’s available,” he said.
Law hopes the province will see that “their idea of no cuts to education, no teacher will lose their job” that people are, in fact, losing their jobs. He hopes the Doug Ford government will allocate more money to save those jobs.
As for the Ontario government’s $1.6 billion Attrition Protection Allocation to protect teacher layoffs, Law says the fund is “smoke and mirrors” and is “not new money we didn’t know about and people are still going to lose their jobs over the next three years.”
Budget still in the works
UCDSB trustee David McDonald told Cornwall Newswatch it’s too early to tell whether all those 100 teachers will be laid off as the board just received its funding notices on Friday.
“We haven’t discussed it at the board table yet. We’re still working with the details about what that revenue will look like,” McDonald said.
He expects teacher requirements will “level out” through the budget process.
“Things will start to level out again and we need to make sure that we are getting back to those teachers on a quick basis to make sure they’re aware of where they’re going to be teaching and we’re going to need them for assignments,” he said.
McDonald says this is an annual process and “perhaps not to this level.” He expects it will affect more educational assistants (EAs).
“It is something that we’ve done to ensure that we weren’t committed to so many teachers in the building, not knowing what our funding would be.”
McDonald says the $1.6 billion Attrition Protection Allocation hasn’t been considered in the budget and the budget hasn’t even been approved. It has to be done by the end of June. “Our goal is to do that much sooner.” McDonald says the board plans to meet “almost every Wednesday” from now until the end of June to address the budget.
“The technical papers that we will get in the next week or two will help us determine what our actual revenue is and what areas the money will be spent. Once we have that determined, then we’ll start to have that process of having teachers, for lack of a better term, rehired or restaffed in schools. I don’t anticipate it being 100 down for September.”
McDonald says “the devil is in the details” on the attrition fund and how it will affect the UCDSB.
The Cornwall trustee admits the process appears to be backwards – teachers getting layoff notices before the budget is passed – but that’s due to requirements in union contracts.
“If we don’t give notice then we’re committed to having those individuals on staff and we just can’t figure out how we’re going to pay for them until we know what our revenue is. Is there a better way to do it? I think there is and I think we need to, across the province, explore that.”
“It’s not an ideal situation for anyone.”