Unwarranted legislation, disrespect driving teachers away from profession

TORONTO, Aug. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Today's introduction of draft legislation that will take away the collective bargaining rights of teachers and educators, coupled with six months of belligerent demands by the provincial government, is driving teachers and would-be teachers away from the profession.

Teacher retirements are up by 35% while registrations at faculties of education are down by 35%, according to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

"The province can't discredit and dishonour Ontario teachers, and take away their democratic rights, and then expect that they are going to start, or continue to pursue their calling," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. Ontario's teachers, who must obtain two university degrees to become certified, are among the most highly qualified teaching professionals in the world.

"While faculties have been graduating more teachers than there are spaces, the government's 'take it or leave it' demands- which include conditions that penalize new teachers- have definitely cast a chill on the profession," added Hammond.

The government's demands severely penalize younger teachers who start at a relatively low level of pay and spend more than a decade working through a grid to obtain a salary commensurate with their expertise and qualifications.

"While young teachers have always accepted the premise that they will be working at lower salaries for over 10 years, they were at least able to take their salary grid futures to the bank and obtain a mortgage. Freezing the grid throws their future into jeopardy," said Hammond.

ETFO local presidents from across the province sat in the provincial legislature gallery today in a silent vigil during first reading of the Putting Students First Act, 2012.

On Tuesday, thousands of teachers are expected to attend a rally at Queen's Park at noon to protest the legislation. Unions including ETFO have vowed to challenge the legislation all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada if it is passed.

Over 77% of Ontarians believe the province should negotiate an agreement with teachers rather than use legislation to impose wages and benefits on them, according to an independent poll conducted for ETFO this month.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

SOURCE: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

For further information:

Valerie Dugale, ETFO Media Relations, Cell: 416-948-0195
Lisa Mastrobuono, ETFO Collective Bargaining Communications: Cell: 416-200-3674