TORONTO, April 24, 2012 /CNW/ - Educational Assistants recommend that MPP Rod Jackson learn what it really means to work in an Autism Spectrum Disorder classroom by paying a visit.
Contrary to the false accusations made in the Legislature on April 19 by Rookie Conservative MPP Jackson, Educational Assistants rarely restrain students. Soft foam blockers are used as protection to prevent workplace injuries for both the workers and the students they support.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas spoke out adamantly in defense of Simcoe's Educational Assistants. "OPSEU condemns the attack on Educational Assistants made by MPP Jackson. These workers deserve a safe workplace where they are protected from harm at all times. It is unacceptable that these dedicated workers are vilified in the Legislature for protecting themselves from harm at work."
OPSEU Local President, Silvanna Petersen, is an Educational Assistant (EA) in Simcoe County. She has personally suffered numerous attacks in her workplace: "Like many EAs, I have been bitten, spat on, scratched, hit, kicked and had my hair pulled many times. No one should have to go to work every day with the risk of being injured," said Petersen. "I am astounded that an elected official would make such uninformed claims. This is a complex issue. Educational Assistants feel belittled and demeaned by the distorted claims that have been made recently by MPP Rod Jackson and others."
"I suspect that Mr. Jackson has never stepped foot in an Autism Spectrum Disorder class where Education Support Workers have to wear personal protective equipment such as spit guards, kevlar gloves, body armour and occasionally have to carry protective shields to ensure their safety and the safety of the students they support. I recommend that Mr. Jackson visit a classroom to see what the work really entails."
EAs and Child and Youth Workers (CYW) are known to suffer concussions, disfiguring bites, punches, slaps and psychosocial hazards at work on a regular basis.
"EAs and CYWs continue to go to work because we are caring professionals who advocate for the students we support and provide excellent individualized quality public education," said Petersen. Educational Assistants are often women, and their wages are low. They are paid approximately 30 thousand dollars a year.
For further information:
Silvanna Petersen, Educational Assistant, OPSEU Local 330 President: 705-627-5346
Anastasios Zafiriadis, OPSEU Staff Representative: 416-524-1278