This Community News Update is going to be a little different, as I'm only going to be writing about a single issue. Normally, we cover a lot of ground in these missives, but tonight, we need to talk about the Ford government’s attack on education workers in Ontario, through his unconscionable use of the notwithstanding clause.
Let me start by saying this. I am appalled at the actions of Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce, and at Queen's Park today, I was actually removed from the Legislature for calling them out for their lies regarding this issue.
You can watch the footage from the Legislature here.
Here are some very quick cliff notes for those who haven’t been following to get you up to speed.
Education workers, who are members of CUPE Ontario have been working on getting a new contract with the Ontario government in recent months. The two sides have been quite far apart, and the workers found themselves in a legal striking position. However, when they threatened to strike (as is their Charter right), the Ford government pulled the rug out and with the use of the notwithstanding clause, are working to force the workers back on the job with a mandated contract.
You can read a more detailed breakdown, here.
Let’s be extremely clear. There are not two sides to this issue, this is a matter of right and wrong, and what Doug Ford is doing right now is wrong.
Collective bargaining rights are constitutionally protected in our country, and for the Ford government to walk away so quickly from the bargaining table and go to the last resort nuclear option (again) showcases just how unworthy he is of his office.
The workers he’s doing this to, they aren’t millionaires – they’re among the least compensated in our education system – despite being vital to it. These are folks who keep our schools churning, who are monitoring the halls, the playgrounds, they support children with disabilities, and more. Their work is as essential to our education system, and all they’re asking for, is to earn wages that ensure they can survive in our increasingly expensive province.
But Doug Ford’s approach wasn’t to address their concerns with compassion. Instead, he decided a better course of action would be to suspend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and impose on them a contract that’s miles below inflation.
With this move, he has sent a message to all workers in Ontario that he has absolutely no respect for them, or the collective bargaining process, and a message to all Ontarians that he has no qualms about trampling the Charter.
These issues need to concern every single person in Ontario. These are not the actions of a government that’s operating in the best interests of society – rather they are forcefully imposing their will on our province.
I know that this Community News Update has been frankly – a bit of a rant. But today, of all days, it must be said. There is no sugar-coating the seriousness of this act from the Ford government, and we all need to remember what was done today.
To be clear, this is an attitude, and a playbook that we’ve seen before from this government. Back in 2018 and 2019, we saw this same strategy of shock and awe, where they intended to force through every terrible, and unpopular thing they wanted to right at the beginning of their term, before pivoting to re-election mode.
Sadly, in 2022 this strategy paid off for them – but it 2026 – we cannot let it succeed again.
Remember this day.