More than 500 delegates attended the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Provincial Assembly (AMPA) in Toronto from March 9 to 12.
In his opening address, President Harvey Bischof touched on a number of issues ranging from preparations for bargaining to the ongoing work to address violence in our workplaces, but focused on the upcoming provincial election. Bischof outlined the issues addressed in OSSTF/FEESO’s election platform, “Public Education: it’s for everyone” (available at osstf.on.ca), and urged members to become familiar with those issues. “Our goal,” said Bischof, “is for every OSSTF/FEESO member to be thinking about the issues we raise in our platform when they’re deciding how to vote. We’re calling for practical, sensible commitments that will help OSSTF/FEESO members do the best job we can do for the students we work with, and we want our members to pay attention to what the party leaders and local candidates are saying about those issues, or whether they’re addressing them at all.”
Farrah Khan, the Sexual Violence Support and Education Coordinator at Ryerson University and Co-Chair of the Provincial Roundtable on Violence Against Women, also addressed AMPA delegates. Khan, who has spent much of her life raising awareness about gender-based violence and equity through art, education, counselling and advocacy, shared strategies about responding effectively to disclosures of sexual violence, working with victims, and working with those who have caused harm.
OSSTF/FEESO was honoured to welcome two prominent international guests. Maria de la Luz Arriaga Lemus is a founding member of the Tri-National Coalition in Defense of Public Education, an organization to which OSSTF/FEESO belongs. She is Chair of the Mexican Section of the Coalition. Comrade Magope Maphila is a founding member of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), which represents more than 250,000 members. Both guests contributed to an engaging lunchtime international forum about issues facing educators and their unions.
With the June provincial election just three months away, the leaders of the three major parties in Ontario were all invited to speak at AMPA. The Progressive Conservatives had not yet chosen a new leader and did not provide a speaker. Premier Kathleen Wynne, Leader of the Liberal Party, addressed AMPA on Sunday morning, and Andrea Horwath, Leader of the New Democratic Party, spoke to the delegates the following day. Both Wynne and Horwath took questions from delegates following their speeches.
Among the important issues considered by delegates was a resolution to re-affiliate with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF). OSSTF/FEESO had been a founding member of the CTF in 1920, but withdrew from membership in 2000. That decision was based on a number of factors, not the least of which was the fact that OSSTF/FEESO’s affiliation with CTF was through the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, which vetted and coordinated all aspects of OSSTF/FEESO’s relationship with CTF. That issue has since been resolved, but OSSTF/FEESO had not, until now, seriously considered re-affiliation with CTF. It was noted in the Provincial Executive’s report to AMPA that CTF has become much more focused recently on social advocacy, labour rights and social justice issues, bringing it into closer alignment with OSSTF/FEESO’s values and concerns. The report also noted that CTF is involved in data collection, statistical analysis, and other forms of research that could augment our own activities, and provides other services that may have significant benefit. After a robust debate, AMPA delegates voted to re-affiliate with CTF.
AMPA 2019, next March, will be the 100th Annual Meeting of the Provincial Assembly.