President's message - Week 19

In this weeks update: 1: Black History Month 2. Plan for Lobbying the Government to Institute Pandemic Pay for Education Workers 3. Media Releases February is Black History Month - OSSTF/FESSO Statement


On Monday, February 1, 2021, we celebrated the start of Black History Month. Twenty-five years ago, the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first African-Canadian woman elected to Canada’s House of Commons, championed legislation to recognize February as Black History Month in Canada. February is the month designated to acknowledge the contributions and experiences of Black Canadians.


OSSTF/FEESO recognizes that Black History is a part of everyday life for individuals who identify as members of the Black diaspora who have contributed to our communities and country. Black History Month is an important entry point to start larger conversations relating to anti-Black racism, systemic racism, and oppression. “OSSTF/FEESO will collectively embrace opportunities to celebrate the contributions of Black individuals while examining, challenging, and deconstructing systemic racism within its structure,” states President Harvey Bischof. “We will move forward from spaces of conversation into reformative practice and action,” concluded Bischof.


Before we can free ourselves from racism, we must acknowledge and recognize its existence. We have an opportunity to learn about ourselves and each other and where we wish to stand personally and collectively on the journey of anti-racism. From recognition to action, the celebration of Black History Month is an important part of the grander work of anti-oppression.


Plan for Lobbying the Government to Institute Pandemic Pay for Education Workers


When the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was recognized in Ontario, the government announced a $4 per hour pay increase for many frontline workers, including personal support workers (PSWs). This additional funding for workers lasted for approximately four months, between April 24, 2020, and August 13, 2020. The government introduced temporary pandemic pay to provide additional support and relief to frontline workers, to encourage staff to continue working, to attract prospective employees, and to help maintain safe staffing levels and the operation of critical frontline services.


In October 2020, the provincial government further announced that 147,000 eligible personal support workers would receive a $3 an hour raise lasting until about March 2021. Currently, 50,000 PSW’s are eligible for the pay increase in long-term care facilities, 38,000 in in-home and community care, as well as 34,000 in children, community, and social services. The pay increase is temporary but Ford promised to make it permanent before it expires in March. The work of a PSW has many similarities to the work of our education worker members who are currently in schools assisting and supporting some of the most vulnerable students in the same way that PSWs are assisting and supporting their clients. With the lack of consultation with OSSTF/FEESO and no desire to work collaboratively to keep workers and students safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, OSSTF/FEESO has decided to write an open letter, from President Harvey Bischof, directly to the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford.


When appropriate, OSSTF/FEESO will do the following:

  • The letter will be sent to Ministers of Labour, Health, Education and Finance.

  • The letter will be sent to all MPPs at the Ontario Legislature.

  • The letter will be shared with the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA), the Council of Trustees Association (CTA), our education affiliates through OTF and the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).

  • The letter may be made public at an appropriate time after sending it to the Premier and MPPs at the legislature.


This letter can be found attached here:

https://mcusercontent.com/fd92d8e08ce1d6b287b53b308/files/6bc27bf2-b134-460d-b01e-37000ec570b2/Appendix_G.pdf


This weeks media Releases


For your information, attached is an OSSTF/FEESO media release that will be issued to media sources in Ontario shortly. It is in response to the Government announcement regarding “Enhanced Safety Measures in Place as In-Person Learning Resumes Across Ontario.” You can view the announcement at https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/60228/enhanced-safety-measures-in-place-as-in-person-learning-resumes-across-ontario


https://mcusercontent.com/fd92d8e08ce1d6b287b53b308/files/a789c148-332d-471b-b2b9-8d1493dc767f/2021_Feb_4_Lecce_s_announcement_hidden_traps.pdf


Attached is an OSSTF/FEESO media release that was be issued to media sources in Ontario regarding Monday's announcement re: expanding testing and enhancing school protocols as more students return to class today.


https://mcusercontent.com/fd92d8e08ce1d6b287b53b308/files/3e49b03f-d467-4765-8114-57560ea71094/2021_Feb_1_Lecce_s_announcement_today_just_more_empty_words.pdf


Attached is an OSSTF/FEESO media release issued to media sources in Ontario regarding the announcement re additional schools returning to face-to-face learning on Monday, February 1st.


https://mcusercontent.com/fd92d8e08ce1d6b287b53b308/files/59fe2009-c6d1-4d7f-be9c-45e82c4d3f95/2021_Jan_28_Underfunded_haphazard_school_reopening_plan.pdf


If you have questions or concerns related to this information or anything else please send me an email or call me at 519-835-0031


In solidarity,


Cheryl

Upper Grand Employee Assistance Program

If you are finding yourself or a family member or a colleague is needing additional support or resources please refer to the board's employee and family assistance program. This service is free and confidential. The board is not given the names of members who are using the service. It has been a challenging year with COVID and many of us are dealing with other challenges unrelated to COVID. This resource may be of help to members who need it.

Access the Upper Grand District School Board’s Employee & Family Assistance Program 24/7 by phone, web or mobile app 1-800-387-4765 | www.workhealthlife.com

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