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Over 1000 delegates gather in Toronto to build a resistance to the Ford agenda

Under the cloud of unprecedented cuts and restructuring and a sustained attack on communities and workers’ rights from the Doug Ford Progressive Conservatives, more than 1000 CUPE Ontario members from across the province are at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre this week to build the resistance plan against a series of misguided policies that will hurt Ontario’s working people.

Key segments of CUPE Ontario’s 56th annual convention include debate and approval of an action plan to mount resistance to Ford’s budget cut mania and looming public services privatization, and a large noontime march and rally along University Ave. to Queen’s Park on Thursday, May 30.

Speakers for this convention include:

  • Keynote Speaker Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the Federal NDP
  • Mark Hancock, President of CUPE National
  • Charles Fleury, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE National
  • Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario
  • Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario
  • Eric Blanc, Journalist, Organizer, Sociologist and Author

Ford government’s education cuts will silence music in TDSB schools, say instructors

TORONTOMay 27, 2019 /CNW/ – A music instructor who has worked 24 years with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is seeing history repeat itself as the board once again proposes cuts to itinerant music programs in elementary schools – this time as a result of cuts to education funding by the Ford government.

In a delegation at today’s special meeting of the TDSB’s Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee, itinerant music instructor (IMI) David Spek will appeal to the TDSB’s budget committee to rescind its recommendation to cut itinerant music programs from the 2019-20 school year.

Protecting the programs is the only way to pass on the enormous benefits of music instruction in TDSB schools, he contends.

The programs at risk of cancellation include vocal, recorder and Orff music education. Other programs, such as band, strings and steel pan, will suffer serious and severe cuts.

These programs are taught by itinerant music instructors, skilled instrumental musicians who travel from school to school, providing specialized instrumental music education to thousands of children each week.

“These longstanding music programs are highly valued by students and parents for the positive and lifelong benefits they bring to our children,” said Spek, who is also a member of Local 4400 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents approximately 12,000 education workers, including 104 IMIs, at the board.

TDSB’s proposed budget recommends a 24% reduction in funding for the hours of education workers.

Studies have shown conclusively that music enhances student achievement across multiple subjects, noted Spek, adding: “Elimination and reduction of the elementary Itinerant program will also have far-reaching consequences for high school music programs. Students will no longer arrive in high school having had exposure to music at the early-years level. It means they will then be less likely to make music one of their electives in high school.”

Similar cuts to elementary music programs were proposed in 2013, when there was a shortfall in education funding. But TDSB trustees reversed those cuts in the face of overwhelming opposition from parents, students and other supporters, including a petition of over 10,000 signatures.

On behalf of students, parents and his fellow IMIs, Spek will urge the board to put students first and commit to ensuring that music programs remain valued, important and accessible in TDSB schools.

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Brampton High Schools Cut Programs Due to Teacher Layoffs

High schools provide students with numerous different courses to choose from. However, recent cutbacks have forced some Brampton schools to cut back on what they can offer.

Last month, it was announced that over 330 teachers would be laid off in the Peel Region, as a result of recent funding cuts by the government. This has forced many schools throughout Brampton to cut back on offered courses.

Schools affected by the cuts include Turner Fenton Secondary School, Mayfield Secondary School, David Suzuki Secondary School, and Brampton Centennial Secondary School.

Brampton Centennial was the most recent school to have announced cut courses, with 30 classes being cut next school year. Mayfield recently announced 42 courses would be cut from the 2019/2020 school year.

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Ford government budget cuts expected to cost Peel Region $45 million

Peel faces a $45.1 million shortfall over the next two years, as a result of the provincial budget cuts, costing the average homeowner $68 more each year in taxes, says Norm Lum, director of business and financial planning for the region.

“Council will need to make some very difficult decisions,” Lum said at a meeting last week. “These are incredibly challenging times.”

The Region of Peel is required to provide many cost-shared programs mandated by the province. On April 11, the province released its 2019 budget with additional details in the weeks that followed. A number of announcements have been made, including adjustments to funding models for both 100 per cent funded programs and cost-shared programs.

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CUPE becomes second education union to request early start to bargaining

The union representing 55,000 school board support staff across Ontario has filed notice to start contract bargaining early, becoming the province’s second education union to do so.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees sent a formal request on Friday, after the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation did so on Monday.

CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions bargains for workers in all four systems — English and French, public and Catholic — and is warning of difficult talks ahead.

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Doug Ford’s Cuts Threaten 600 School Breakfast Programs That UNICEF Says Low-Income Children Need

Even though Canada ranks near the bottom of the industrialized world when it comes to food security and ending hunger, Doug Ford’s cuts to public health have put the future of 600 school breakfast programs at risk.

In fact, cutting the programs aimed at lower-income children would go against recent recommendations from UNICEF that noted such funding is needed to boost Canada’s lagging child nutrition.


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Thousands protest Ford’s proposed education cuts at Queen’s Park

Thousands of teachers, students, and parents from all over Ontario gathered at Queen’s Park on April 6 to protest against proposed changes to education by the provincial government, with many coming from as far as Sudbury and Thunder Bay in more than 150 buses.

The rally was organized by five different teachers’ unions: the Elementary Teachers’ Federation Ontario, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

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