ONTARIO – The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) sent layoff notices to 25 Para-Professional
employees following the June 19 board meeting, according to a press release from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF).
This cut represents a funding decrease of $1.3 million, or a loss of 53 per cent of the board’s Para-Professionals, including child and youth workers and behaviourists (Student Support Partners).
“While the Ford government is partly to blame for cutting education funding to frontline workers and student
supports, we are shocked and dismayed that the UCDSB would make such deep cuts to vital services for students,” said Adrienne McEwen, District Officer in District 26 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO), in a press release. “Despite government claims that it will be business as usual at Ontario school boards, there is absolutely nothing routine about the alarming number of Para-Professionals declared redundant today. This will be devastating for students, parents and our communities.”
Para-Professional employees provide services that have been critical in student suicide prevention and student mental health, as well as student engagement strategies. They also facilitate connections between families and outside agencies that can provide specific support for students.
“This is a shattering number of Para-Professionals at the UCDSB who are losing their jobs,” said Jim Mulville, Professional Student Services Personnel (PSSP) Bargaining Unit President in District 26 of (OSSTF/FEESO). “With
the provincial priorities around violence in schools and the rise of student mental health crises, these frontline workers are critical in empowering youth and in resolving violent incidents. They create safety and behaviour plans that keep students and staff safe. Who is going to seamlessly step in and do this work?”
McEwen said Ron Ferguson, Superintendent of Special Education, recently advised that the Board has ‘no contingency plans’ for the most vulnerable students who will be affected by this loss of service and the Board is not replacing these mental health workers.
Just last week, the UCDSB announced $11.7 million in cuts to program support, school operations, school office administration, central office administration and special education.