100 teachers laid off by UCDSB

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By Nick Seebruch
100 teachers laid off by UCDSB
A toddler waiting to catch the school bus. File photo.

This story has been updated with comments from UCDSB Board Chair John McAllister.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) declared 100 teachers as being “redundant” on Tuesday, April 30.

Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) District 26 President Elpis Law confirmed to Seaway News that the layoffs were a result of the funding cuts announced by the Doug Ford government.

“At least 100 bodies were laid off today,” said Law.

He said right now, those teachers laid off will have to wait until June before they can re-apply for employment.

“We have to follow normal staffing channels right now,” Law said. “We are hoping the board and government can increase the budget so we can higher these people back.”

Law said he thought that this move was a bad one for teachers and students.

“The 28-to-one ratio has been very detrimental,” said Law referring to class size increases included in the provincial budget. “Last year, we had only three people who were declared redundant and this year its 100.”

As a part of reforms to the education system, the Provincial government raised the limit on class sizes from 22 to 28, meaning that less teachers will be teaching more students.

Progressive Conservative Minister of Education Lisa Thompson assured the public that no teacher would lose their jobs.

“We are investing a landmark $1.6B in teacher job protection. This funding will make sure not a single teacher will lose their job as a result of our proposed changes to class sizes or e-learning,” Thompson wrote on Twitter.

The $1.6 billion that Thompson mentioned refers to the new Attrition Protection Allocation fund designed to encourage school boards to refrain from cutting teachers.

“We promised to improve education for students in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry and across the province by modernizing our education system to ensure our children leave school with the tools they need to be successful both inside and outside of the classroom,” said MPP Jim McDonell in a recent press release to the media. “The province is building on its plan Education that Works for You, and introducing new measures that will help make sure Ontario students are leaders in education once again.”

Seaway News reached out to John McAllister, Chair of the UCDSB for comment.

McAllister said that the notices given out did not necessarily mean that all 100 teachers will be laid off.

“What really occurred is that 100 people received notices and that does not mean that 100 people who get notices will lose their jobs,” he said.

McAllister explained that these notices had to be sent out per the board’s collective bargaining agreement with their teachers.

McAllister further repudiated that these layoffs had anything to do with the changes introduced by the province.

“We are facing a transportation deficit of $5.2 million and that is not due to any financial mismanagement on the Board’s part, but because of the arbitrated settlement we have with our transportation service,” he explained.

He said that he could not definitively say how many teachers would be laid off once their budget is completed.

“We know what our expenses will be, but it is our revenue we don’t know about,” he said.

McAllister explained that the revenue side of the budget will be announced to them by the province in the coming weeks.

He wanted to reassure the public that their children will still be served by the UCDSB at their schools.

“Our schools in September will be staffed and our students will be welcomed into another year of learning,” he said.

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