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One Public System campaign generates discussion

Artwork from the One Public System campaign.

OSSTF/FEESO formally launched the One Public System website in October 2016 after that year’s Annual Meeting of the Provincial Assembly (AMPA) passed motions to provide funding to initiate a campaign. At AMPA 2017, members approved funding to extend the campaign into the next school year. The onepublicsystem.ca website is complemented by issue-specific Facebook and Twitter accounts, all promoting OSSTF/FEESO’s policy that calls for a single public education system in Ontario in each official language.

At AMPA 2013, members approved two policies advocating the move to one public system, which state:

It is the policy of OSSTF that there should be only one publicly funded school system for each official language;

It is the policy of OSSTF that no OSSTF jobs should be lost as a result of moving to one publicly funded school system for each official language.

The online campaign had a successful push during the winter months, gaining visibility through the use of social media advertising that drove traffic to our campaign website. This has prompted some discussions and inquires in the media, including a number of letters to the editors of large publications, including the Toronto Star.

The issue has also emerged recently in the province of Alberta, where Catholic schools are also government funded. Former Alberta Education Minister Dave King recently announced the launch of a public campaign calling for the merger of the Catholic and public systems of education in that province. He has helped to establish a website in Alberta to promote a province-wide campaign: www.ouridea.ca.

A report in the Edmonton Journal on the launch of the one public system campaign in Alberta cited our campaign in Ontario and provided a link to our onepublicsystem.ca website. This has also prompted some media discussion of the issue in the province of Saskatchewan, the only other province to provide government funding to Catholic schools.

The focus of the One Public System campaign is to kindle public discussion about the future of publicly funded education in the province, and to prompt the Ontario government to take a serious and thorough look at the merits and challenges of moving to one system in each official language. In the meantime, OSSTF/FEESO stands by its policy of promoting one system, but will not support any changes that would lead to significant job loss for our members, or which would use any savings generated by merging the systems for any purpose other than reinvestment back into public education.

5 Comments on One Public System campaign generates discussion

  1. Dianna K. Goneau Inkster B.A.(ed.), B.A., M.L.S. // June 16, 2017 at 5:58 pm // Reply

    What about job losses for members of the francophone teachers’ union and the English Catholic teachers’ union and the dlementary school teachers’ union? Will you tolerate that?

  2. Dianna. Yes, when two half-empty grade x classrooms are rolled into one, one teacher can do the job where two were previously hired. That represents a cost saving which is one of the reasons to eliminate the separate schools in the first place. The purpose of a union is to protect members, so the job of the respective unions is to look after the redundant teachers. Go on strike to force a deal. Also, let us realize that approximately 4,800 teachers retire each year, and maybe the unions can force an early retirement scheme for senior teachers to make some extra teacher spaces. I have tolerated paying for the separate system ever since I started paying provincial taxes, so I’ll be happy to let someone else take a hit for my financial benefit, and the sooner the better.

  3. Edith Woodbridge // January 24, 2018 at 10:46 am // Reply

    Absolutely. The Province of Ontario has to observe the Charter Rights which give all persons equality, and they have no business funding one denomination of one faith group.
    Faith is faith, not fact. Faith is a matter of personal choice — but should be funded by persons of that faith– not public funds which belong to persons of many faiths or perhaps no special faith at all. Some people are strictly secular.

  4. John Ruberto // January 24, 2018 at 12:27 pm // Reply

    Re: Job losses
    After the merge, the number of students won’t change, so the number of teachers won’t change. We’ll just stop busing kids past the nearest school, and we’ll stop having to put up with 2 half-empty schools within a couple of hundred meters of each other. Whatever attrition happens naturally through retirements ought to cover any position losses, if they occur at all.

  5. Savings would be expected to come through savings on administration costs such as busing, trustees, etc. For a more detailed breakdown of these savings and other useful information, see https://open.cripeweb.org/aboutOpen.html, the website of a coalition (OPEN, One Public Education Now) crowdfunding for a legal challenge to public funding of separate schools under the Charter of Rights. Of course, in future, under one public non-denominational school system, non-Catholics would be able to apply for all publicly-funded teaching jobs, not just the two-thirds in public schools.

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