Premier Ford betrays Ontario’s working people and their families

TORONTO, ON (October 23, 2018) – Reducing wages and gutting protections for our provinces lowest paid workers proves Premier Ford is only interested in helping his corporate friends and has no problem hurting working people and their families to do it, says CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn.

Hahn’s comments come following today’s announcement that Ford is not only cancelling the increase to minimum wage but is also reversing the legislation that reduced the ability of employers to exploit part-time, contract and temp agency workers. Ford is also cancelling the two paid sick days and fair notification of schedule changes for non-unionized workers.

“Scrapping protections for the most vulnerable and precarious workers in our province is not the actions of a government that is truly ‘for the people’. Today’s actions will hurt thousands of working people, hurt their families and it will ensure that Ontario’s economy only benefits those at the very top,” says Hahn. “All across Ontario, workers and their families are struggling. They used to have money at the end of week, now they have week at the end of the money. If the Premier really wants to protect workers, he will rethink his plan.”

Read full article >

Doug Ford government cancels funding for three new GTA university campuses

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is cancelling funding for three university campuses in the Toronto area, blaming the province’s poor finances.

Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said the government is no longer in a position to fund the three satellite campuses in Markham, Milton and Brampton owing to the province’s “new fiscal restraints.”

The campuses were set to open in 2021 and 2022 and serve a total of 8,000 students.

Ms. Fullerton cited a review of the province’s finances that found the deficit has more than doubled to $15-billion this year. During the provincial election campaign, Doug Ford, now Premier, also promised a line-by-line audit of government spending.

Read full article >


Conservatives, Liberals, Boost Big Business at Injured Workers’ Expense

TORONTO, ON – The Ford government announced today they are slashing the amount businesses will pay to support the insurance system that protects injured workers, instead of making investments to ensure the program adequately provides injured workers with the support they deserve.

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) was created over a century ago to provide workers who are injured, made sick, or killed on the job with supports, including an income, to help them and their families. Today’s announcement of an across-the-board average premium reduction to employers of 29.8 % in 2019 comes after the WSIB has already cut employer rates by 10% in the past few years.

“For too long Liberal and PC governments alike have failed to support injured workers with an adequate workers’ compensation system,” Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, stated in response to the government’s announcement. “Benefits paid out to injured workers have been on the decline for years. Far too many injured workers are being denied access to benefits of any kind or aren’t even covered by WSIB in the first place. Thousands of injured workers are now living in poverty in Ontario. Ford is simply speeding up the Liberals’ work on reducing support to injured workers.”

Read full article >


Workers’ Compensation workers from across Canada meet to discuss crushing workloads and the need for sweeping reforms for mental health injuries

Niagara Falls, ON – Representatives of the major unions representing Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) workers in Canada met to discuss issues that impact injured workers, employers and employees of workers compensation boards.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) represent Workers’ Compensation employees in Canada’s ten provinces and three territories.

The conference focused on two primary issues affecting employees of WCB’s and injured workers alike. Sadly, unreasonable workloads are experienced by workers in multiple sectors across Canada. No one is immune from the negative health impacts of heavy workloads.

Read full article >


Premier Ford must not use new fiscal forecast to break promises of no service cuts or job losses

TORONTO, ON – Today’s release of the Ontario government’s new fiscal forecast must not be used as an excuse for the Premier to break his election promises that he will not make any cuts to public services or make job cuts, says CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn.

“There is no question that the previous Liberal government tried to cook the books in their favour, but we also know Premier Ford played fast and loose with the financial numbers at the municipal level to create a phony fiscal crisis in a failed attempt to justify substantial service cuts,” says Hahn. “What we have in this province is a revenue problem. Fixing the issues we have in long-term care, in our schools, hospitals and other public services, is going to require more money, not less – that’s just a fact. And that means it’s time for large corporations to start paying their fair share in taxes again.”

Read full article >

mandatory-sex-ed (1)

Ontario students to walk out of class in protest of sex-ed curriculum changes

Students at more than a hundred schools across Ontario pledged to walk out of class on Friday to show the provincial government they disagree with its decision to repeal a modernized version of the sex-ed curriculum.

The walkouts — called “We the students do not consent” — are set to take place in schools from Niagara Falls to Ottawa. The protests also aim to voice opposition to the cancellation of curriculum writing sessions designed to fulfil findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“A lot of adults have been saying you don’t know what you’re talking about, about these issues, or you don’t have to get to have an opinion,” said Indygo Arscott, 16, a co-organizer of the protests. “But it’s going to affect us and it’s going to affect the children younger than us.”

Read full article >


Distressing day for democracy in Ontario as Premier Ford threatens to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause

TORONTO (September 10, 2018) – All Ontarians should be very concerned by Premier Ford’s threat to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause in response to today’s ruling that his Bill to interfere in municipal election is unconstitutional, says CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn.

“Our constitution was created for a reason – to protect all Canadians and our fundamental democracy. Invoking the Notwithstanding Clause to override local democracy, when those actions violate our constitution, is a terrifying precedent for a government to set,” says Hahn. “We need a moment of sober second thought here. We need to ask all our MPPs to set partisanship aside and stop this from going ahead.”

In response to today’s ruling that Bill 5 unequivocally violates the constitution, Premier Ford announced his intent to recall the legislature Wednesday, to bring in legislation that would allow him to enact the Notwithstanding Clause to override the decision. If the Premier were to be successful, this would be the first time the Notwithstanding Clause is used in the history of Ontario.

Read full article >


Some Ontario students will still learn the 2015 sex-ed curriculum

As kids across Ontario prepare to head back to class, with some even opening the school door this week, parents are left scratching their head over just what will be taught to their child when it comes to the Health and Physical Education Curriculum (HPE).

To alleviate some confusion, both the Toronto District School Board and the Peel District School Board have released statements on what to expect in both elementary school and high school.

According to the statements, both TDSB and PDSB high school teachers will continue to teach the 2015 secondary school curriculum — including the revised sex-ed curriculum.

However, when it comes to elementary schools, the TDSB said it will be teaching the 2010 curriculum — which is really the 1998 curriculum.

Read full article >


Educators slam Ford’s ‘snitch line’ for teachers who defy sex ed rollback

The Ontario government is creating what critics are calling a “snitch line” for parents to report teachers who refuse to stop using the repealed 2015 sexual education curriculum.

And Doug Ford warned that educators caught breaking the rules will face consequences.

“We will not tolerate anybody using our children as pawns for grandstanding and political games,” the premier said Wednesday. “Make no mistake, if we find somebody failing to do their job, we will act.”

The warning was issued during Ford’s announcement that public consultations on a new sexual education curriculum, and other key issues, will start next month. Elementary school teachers are to abandon the curriculum introduced in 2015, which has been largely supported by educators and health groups, and revert back to old lesson plans.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education issued a revised interim Health and Physical Education curriculum for Grades 1 to 8, which was used between 1998 and 2014. High school students, however, will be taught the 2015 curriculum, which was introduced by the Liberals to address current issues such as same-sex marriage, gender and cyberbullying.

The government also unveiled a new website called Fortheparents.ca that is “designed to give parents a portal to provide feedback about concerns related to the curriculum.” And, if parents feel like a teacher is deliberately ignoring the curriculum, they were advised to call the Ontario College of Teachers’ Investigations and Hearing’s Department or file a complaint online.

Read More


Omers Proposed Changes

The OMERS Sponsors Board is proposing to make the following change that will hurt your pension:

1. Changes to early retirement provisions.
As it stands today, OMERS members can retire early if:

They have worked for 30 years; or
They reach their 90 factor where your age and years of service add up to 90
OMERS wants to require members to wait until you are no more than 5 years away from the normal age of retirement before you can apply for early retirement.

In other words, despite years of service and paying in to the pension plan, no CUPE member would be able to retire before the age of 60 without taking a reduced pension.

2. Changes to how your pension is calculated, which for some would mean a substantial loss in benefits.
Right now, calculating your pension is done by multiplying years of service by an accrual rate of 1.325% for salaries up to the current $55,300 [the current Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE)] and a 2 % accrual rate on wages above that amount.

OMERS is proposing to raise the base salary by 14 % before increasing the accrual calculation from 1.35 to 2 %. This would mean a lower pension for those making above the YMPE.

OMERS will claim that this loss will be made up for by an increase in CPP that kicks in years from now, but this means that OMERS pensioners will not fully benefit from the expansion of CPP which the Canadian government agreed to for all workers.

3. And worse than the previously proposed modified indexing, OMERS is now proposing “conditional inflation protection” or conditional indexing.
This proposal would remove indexing as of 2025 until the pension plan meets specific conditions – some of which will be decided at a later date, behind closed doors and based on a financial management strategy that has not even been created yet.

Though they have yet to clearly define the specific conditions, some of what they seem to be proposing is:

Indexing would continue only when OMERS is above 105% fully funded AND that the implementation of indexing wouldn’t cause the plan to go below 105% fully funded.
In other words, the plan would have to be approximately 108-109% funded for plan members to receive indexing.
Today OMERS is funded at 94 % and given that the plan is on target to be fully funded in 2025, it will likely take several more years to reach the 109% mark – if that is even possible.

This means that after 2025 it will be impossible for members to know when or if they will receive indexing, which is a huge loss of pension security.

Taken together, all three of these proposed changes represent a significant financial loss to OMERS pensioners. We have people working on the exact calculations of what this will mean for you and your fellow members, but based on what we know so far, it would be somewhere in the ball park of 20% overall loss in guaranteed benefits going forward.

It is important to note that these are all employer-friendly changes. They have chosen to propose cuts to your benefits rather than look at the possibility of a small increase to employer contribution rates.