President Hammond began his remarks by acknowledging and thanking the First Peoples of this territory, the Mississaugas of the New Credit, and other Indigenous peoples for sharing this land so that delegates could conduct ETFO’s 2017 Annual Meeting.
President Hammond noted that over the past two years the Provincial Executive has moved forward on a number of initiatives in a way that puts the best interests of ETFO’s 78,000 members at the centre of those initiatives. They include:
- The 2017-2019 Extension Agreements for teacher, occasional teacher, DECE, ESP and PSP members. The Extension Agreements included some significant gains on issues that ETFO has been advocating about for many years, including the introduction of class size caps for FDK classes, professional learning funding for OT, DECE, ESP and PSP members, funding to hire more special education and specialist teachers, and Grades 4-8 class size average reductions in 13 school boards. Gains were achieved without having to take prolonged strike action and were ratified with a solid mandate. The gains made in these agreements are a solid foundation for further gains in the next round of central and local bargaining in 2019.
- ETFO’s call to action to address violent incidents in elementary schools. ETFO has developed a multi-year organizational strategy that includes training and resources for members to address workplace violence, political lobbying, coalition-building with community groups and media events.
- ETFO’s challenge to the Ministry of Education to fix its out-dated funding formula that does not fund based on student or programming needs. Over the past few months ETFO has been working with economist Hugh MacKenzie on research and analysis of the funding formula. On Monday, August 14, ETFO released the report called “Shortchanging Ontario Students – An overview and assessment of education funding in Ontario.” The report includes seven key recommendations that the government must implement to begin the process of fixing Ontario’s education funding formula that has been short-changing students for two decades. There has been significant media interested in the report, including by the Toronto Star.
- The many ETFO local leaders and activists who have been working and organizing in support of the $15 and fairness campaign and the OFL’s recommended amendments to Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.
- With 129 delegates, ETFO’s significant presence at the CLC national convention in 2017. This year’s number is three times more than ETFO’s delegate count for the 2014 CLC national convention.
- Seeking a fair remedy for the losses incurred by ETFO members as a result of Bill 115, which was declared an unconstitutional piece of legislation by Judge Thomas Lederer of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in April 2016. Because the current Liberal government was not willing to meet our expectations for a fair settlement, and ETFO’s Provincial Executive took a strong stand, rejected their “pennies on the dollar” offer and referred the matter back to the court. In July during discussions with Justice Lederer he proposed mediation as a way to determine an appropriate remedy. ETFO’s Provincial Executive has considered this proposal and agreed to participate in mediation. The government has also agreed.
President Hammond concluded his address by thanking ETFO staff for their hard work and dedication to the membership.