In the months leading up to the June 7 provincial election, OSSTF/FEESO developed and released a detailed education platform focused on key issues facing publicly funded education in Ontario. We urged members to use that platform as a basis upon which to evaluate the positions of the major political parties.
As the election loomed closer, it became clear that the Progressive Conservatives’ campaign promises offered nothing to suggest that any of these issues were even on their radar. That in itself was cause for concern, but Doug Ford’s repeated commitment to slash billions of dollars from the provincial budget—a goal that cannot possibly be achieved without serious consequences for education and virtually all public services—led us to conclude that the election of a PC government would not be in the best interest of OSSTF/FEESO members and the work they do on behalf of students.
Accordingly, OSSTF/FEESO settled on an election strategy that encouraged members to work against the prospect of a PC majority by supporting and voting for OSSTF/FEESO-endorsed candidates in ridings across the province. It’s worth noting that, of the 40 seats that were won by the New Democratic Party, 38 were won by candidates that had been endorsed by OSSTF/FEESO.
Nevertheless, on June 7 the people of Ontario elected a majority Progressive Conservative government; on June 29 a new cabinet will be sworn in and Doug Ford will become the Premier of Ontario.
While this is not the result we were hoping for, we will not be adopting a hostile disposition toward the new government from the outset. Instead, we will be firm and forthright in the pursuit of publicly funded education’s and our members’ interests. We will reach out and make an honest effort to establish a meaningful dialogue, through which we will hope to advocate for the issues that are important to our members. We will attempt to impress upon the government that the students of Ontario are always best served when the government respects and supports the crucial work that our members, and all educators, do on behalf of those students, from junior kindergarten to university.
Beyond offering a truly regressive approach to Health and Physical Education and some bromides regarding other aspects of curriculum and cell phones in class, at the time of writing Doug Ford has said almost nothing at all about his plans for education once his party transitions to government. If, through frank dialogue and reasoned discussion, we can help to steer his government away from actions that harm the working conditions of our members and the learning conditions of our students, then we will follow that course of action for as long as it remains productive.
That said, we are well aware that it’s simply not possible to square any kind of meaningful, ongoing support for our members’ work with the budget cuts the PCs promised during the campaign. We must be fully prepared for the very real possibility that this government will veer in directions that would effectively subvert the work of our members and undermine publicly funded education
Should that occur, OSSTF/FEESO will tenaciously oppose those actions by all appropriate means. As always, we must be prepared to adjust our tactics accordingly, but our objective will always be, as it has always been, to advance the interests of our members, and to protect and enhance publicly funded education.