At the December 7, 2017 meeting of the Governing Council of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), the Council’s Finance Committee proposed a budget for 2018 that included a 20 per cent increase in member fees. That would have meant an annual fee increase of $28 for every member. In the days leading up to the Council meeting, the OCT had confirmed that it planned to allocate $16 of the proposed increase to paying off the mortgage on its downtown Toronto office building, and use the remaining $12 to balance the College’s budget.
In response to the proposed fee hike, 38 teacher and occasional teacher Bargaining Units, representing 33,771 OSSTF/FEESO members, passed formal motions opposing the OCT fee hike. OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof also sent a letter to the OCT Council Chair expressing the Federation’s unequivocal opposition to any consideration by the OCT Council of another membership fee increase. Bischof pointed out that this latest proposed increase was coming on the heels of three successive fee hikes, and would represent a 48 per cent increase in members’ fees since 2012. He asserted that the OCT’s rationale that the 2018 increase was required to pay off the College’s mortgage was unacceptable to OSSTF/FEESO members.
OSSTF/FEESO representatives, including members of the Provincial Executive and Provincial Office staff, attended the Council meeting on behalf of the membership. Chris Cowley, President of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF), presented a deputation on behalf of OTF and its four affiliates. Cowley declared that a 20 percent fee increase is not acceptable to any teacher in Ontario, and even less acceptable to teachers whose work is precarious. He pointed out that although teachers had been given no say in the matter, they were about to be burdened with the cost of the College’s desire to pay down its mortgage, and this, he said, would serve only to alienate the membership.
After considerable debate, the budget motion that included the $28 membership fee increase was defeated. Following a short break, the Finance Committee presented a revised budget that contained no membership fee increase, and that budget was passed by the council.
OSSTF/FEESO has repeatedly expressed concerns that the OCT uses the fees it collects from members to expand the scope of its mandate as a regulatory body. While we have been successful in fending off an unnecessary fee increase for the coming year, OSSTF/FEESO will continue to monitor the OCT’s activities and advocate to defend the best interests of Federation members.