Re: Hard Lesson, Review editorial, Sept.6
As a teacher, I find it disturbing that the writer perpetuates falsehoods about teachers and the teaching profession, while ignoring the illegal and abusive legislation that is Bill 115. I believe the public is unaware of the steps the Liberals have taken to strip Ontario teachers of their rights under the Labour Relations Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Some samples from Bill 115: “The Lieutenant Governor in Council may impose by regulation a collective agreement on a board, employee bargaining agent and the employees of the board who are represented by the employee bargaining agent,” i.e. the government will not allow collective bargaining but will impose a collective agreement. “The Ontario Labour Relations Board shall not inquire into, or make a decision on whether a provision of this Act is constitutionally valid or is in conflict with the Human Rights Code” i.e. the government will not comply with the Ontario Labour Relations Act. “No steps shall be taken to have a court question, review, prohibit or restrain any consultation, review or approval process prescribed or initiated under this Act at the Minister’s or Lieutenant Governor in Council’s discretion” i.e. the government will not allow citizens to seek legal remedy against the government through the court system.
Under section 2(d) of the Charter, Canadians are guaranteed freedom of association. Chief Justice McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada wrote in a 2007 decision “Freedom of association guaranteed by s.2(d) of the Charter includes a procedural right to collective bargaining.” The Liberals have legislated this right away from teachers.
Regardless of how you feel about teachers, the job that we do, or our level of compensation, it should be recognized that we do have the right to bargain with our employer (which, incidentally, is our local school board and not the Ontario government).
Every citizen of Ontario should be concerned about a government that puts itself above the law to serve its own purposes. Every citizen of Ontario should be concerned about a government that purposely misleads the public for its own political gain, and every citizen of Ontario should be concerned about a government that introduces legislation that strips away rights that are guaranteed under our Constitution.
It is for these reasons that teachers are protesting. It is for these reasons that teachers’ unions are launching a court challenge supported by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and not, as you suggest, because of a wage freeze or a reduction in sick days.
Nancy Millar OCT