By Gerry Barker
Posted October 21, 2015
The Globe and Mail published details of a 42 page secret document that outlined how after a year of negotiating, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) received this unprecedented payout.
The document revealed the $1 million bribe was given to compensate the union for the costs of negotiating. It stated that a new provincial bargaining system caused the yearlong negotiations to drag on.
I’m not making this up.
This payment, which can only be described as bribe to settle a contract, is unprecedented and morally wrong. It was a desperation move by the provincial negotiators to avoid a continuation of the OSSTF strike actions last spring in Durham, Sudbury and Peel regions.
You will recall this summer the Premier stated there was no money for the teachers who were all without contracts. They included the OSSTF, the Elementary Teachers federation of Ontario, the Catholic High School and Elementary Teachers and the French teachers unions. Collectively, the province was facing a province-wide work stoppage by the teacher’s unions before schools re-opened after Labour Day.
The government’s excuse for the bribe lay in a new system of bargaining that, the report suggests, befuddled and prolonged negotiations with the various unions.
The fact is that the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, reached a settlement and was party to a deal that involved five various teacher’s unions. They received a 2.5 per cent pay increases plus other benefit improvements including a change in withdrawing banked sick leave funds.
She did this despite her leader saying there was no money to pay increases to the teachers.
Instead, Minister Sandals, in announcing the pay increases, used the term “net zero” meaning that the impact of the pay and benefit increases will be recovered from other programs. So far, so good.
But the secret document revealed the “net zero” money would come from a secondary program enhancement fund. It is assumed that this allocated $20 million fund seized from the program is to help students experiencing difficulty in high school and assist them to graduate.
It is also safe to assume that both the government negotiators and the OSSTF bargaining team agreed that it was okay to take the money from a student program in order to pay the teachers’ new contract increases.
This is a classic example of moral turpitude and excessive misappropriation of public funds by the Ontario government.
The cozy relationship between the 60,000 OSSTF members, and the Ontario Liberal party is dependent on the union members carrying out the Liberals political agenda, is appalling.
To add outrage to this powder keg of resentment are the other unions that also settled along the same terms as the OSSTF, except they didn’t receive the $1 million bribe. Except one, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, who almost two months into the school year, have no settlement in sight.
Maybe The Minister should offer them $1 million to offset those pesky negotiating costs like the bribe money the OSSTF received.
The problem now for the government is how do you explain this $1 million OSSTF bribe to the other unions that did settle without receiving that juicy bonus?
It would seem that the government, in this case the Minister of Education, has been painted into a corner. For Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister Liz Sandals, paying off the teachers to achieve settlement is nothing new. In 2013, they restored the Dalton McGuinty teacher union contract rollbacks at a cost of $460 million.
Is there no shame in this?
They have destroyed any trust or goodwill of the other teacher unions with this asinine bribe that has oozed out of the secret vaults of the Ontario government.
Between Liz Sandals and Kathleen Wynne, they have now set the course for long-term distrust and disruption of the vital roles that our teachers play in the growth and vitalization of our Province and our children.
Do the right thing, both of you, resign.