November 3, 2022
In Solidarity with Ontario’s Education Workers
On October 30, 2022, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), issued a strike notice, after the Government of Ontario refused their demands for an 11.7% salary increase alongside other requests for improved working conditions. CUPE represents 55,000 education workers, including administration staff, librarians, early childhood educators and custodians. While absolutely essential to Ontario’s education system, they remain the lowest paid education workers in the province.
The average annual salary of education workers is $39,000 (equivalent to $18.75/h), whereas the living wage in Toronto is $22.08/h. In CUPE’s research on Education Workers’ Wages In Ontario, many workers have reported taking on additional jobs in order to afford basic necessities, needing to cut back on food, and having to use food banks due to the discrepancy between salaries and inflation rates in Ontario.
Over the past week, not only have we seen the Government of Ontario refuse education workers a living wage, but they have also imposed a contract making it illegal to strike. To do so is a violation of the Charter rights of workers across the province. These actions are consistent with a history of government neglect towards essential workers and underfunding of social supports that ensure access to food, education, health, housing and other public needs.
At FoodShare, we often talk about the direct relationship between food insecurity and poverty. Our right to food is so much more than an issue of food supply – it is equitable access to the resources that allow us to feed, house, and care for ourselves and our loved ones with dignity and joy. The right to food was legally recognized in Canada in 1976. It is the government’s duty to uphold our right to food and our Charter rights, and to make investments that result in the elimination of legislated poverty.
The actions that the Government of Ontario is taking against workers are unacceptable. We stand in solidarity with CUPE and support demands for increases in salary, overtime pay and prep time for Ontario’s education workers. We believe that all workers deserve a living wage, dignified working conditions, and the right to speak out when they are facing injustice.
Some ways to support:
- Stay tuned in with CUPE for updates on the union’s demands and calls to action. Follow @CUPEOntario on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
- On November 4th beginning at 8AM, join the picket line at Queen’s Park or find your nearest picket line here. You can also attend the family-friendly Justice for Workers Emergency Rally on Thursday November 3rd @ 6PM.
- If you are an employer, please consider providing paid time off on Friday November 4th, so that employees are able to attend events in solidarity with education workers.