Online learning in Hamilton for Catholic students in the event of a CUPE strike, the public board has ‘contingency plans’

By Nathan Sager

Published on November 16, 2022 at 5:13 p.m.

Families with children in Hamilton’s two largest school boards are likely familiar with the drill in case Ontario’s lowest-paid education workers leave their jobs next week.

A CUPE strike, which could take place on Monday (November 21) if a collective agreement between the union and the province is not reached, would lead the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic School Board (HWCDSB) to close schools and move to online learning. The Hamilton-Wentworth Public Board (HWDSB) said it would develop “contingency plans” and share them with families on Thursday.

The Catholic Board has approximately 1,000 CUPE-OSBCU staff in fewer schools than HWDSB. They include, according to a letter to families from Director of Education David Hansen and President Patrick J. (Pat) Daly, school and board office staff, teacher aides, early childhood educators designated, social workers, speech therapists, psychometricians and children. and youth workers. All HWCDSB parents/guardians who require a device for online learning should contact their child’s principal by Friday, November 18.

About 500 of potentially affected CUPE colleagues are HWDSB employees, which explains the different approaches.

Earlier this month, Catholic schools in Hamilton were closed for two days on November 4 and 7 and public schools for one day on November 7 when CUPE’s 55,000 mostly female employees walked off the job. They returned on November 8, after Ontario’s PC Party government led by Premier Doug Ford, under the portfolio of Education Minister Stephen Lecce, agreed to withdraw Bill 28 back to the Labor, which used the notwithstanding clause 33 of the Charter to suspend workers’ bargaining rights and impose a four-year contract.

The bill was repealed two days ago, although the education minister did not participate in the recorded vote. The latest is that the province and the union say the mediators will continue to negotiate until the strike deadline. There is reportedly common ground on wages, but CUPE says the province is reluctant to invest in education.

The salary increase amounts to approximately 3.95 percent per year. This rate is still lower than the current inflation rate of 6.9%, but it is higher than the government’s initial offers and appears to be indexed to hourly wages, which CUPE had cited as essential since many members are hourly employees rather than salaried employees.

School children in Ontario have missed more days of in-person learning than their counterparts in all other Canadian and US jurisdictions since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 20.

Last year, researchers from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and four southern Ontario universities wrote a report that predicted the amount of educational loss caused by the pandemic would cause long-term economic damage. The report, COVID-19 and Education Disruptions in Ontario: Emerging Evidenceidentified “a need for funding explicit education recovery strategies in addition to regular school budgets”.

The authors added: “Strategies can include active measures to ensure appropriate universal responses (whole curriculum adaptations, teaching and student support) and intensive accelerated learning programs targeted for the most disadvantaged groups.
by the effects of COVID-19 on health and education.

This June 2021 report was prepared for the Ontario Science Advisory Table. In 2020-2021, this voluntary group of hundreds of doctors, scientists and administrators who often opposed the pandemic strategies taken by the Prime Minister, who has no medical training or degree in health sciences.

In April, the Scientific Advisory Table moved to Public Health Ontario from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Over the summer it was disbanded.

— with files from Ryan Rumbolt and The Canadian Press

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