Tag Archives: Education Minister Liz Sandals

Whats the difference between Volkswagen and the Ontario Liberals?

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 28, 2015

Volkswagen was the world’s largest car manufacturer until it became embroiled in a monumental scandal over lying about the fuel efficiency of its diesel engines. In the current quarter it announced a loss of $1.8 billion and slipped to second place in sales behind Toyota.

Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Liberals have been stumbling along for two years with a $10 million operating deficit. Now we learn that her government has been making under the table payments to teacher’s unions who, in turn, have spent some $6.1 million supporting the party in at least three provincial elections.

The premier calls the payments “normal” while Liz Sandals, MPP, Guelph and Minister of Education, is quoted as saying the payments were ”nothing about anything.”

So what’s the difference between Volkswagen and the Wynne Liberals?

Volkswagen fired its CEO, shook up the board of directors and acknowedged its mistake of lying to the public about the diesel mileage of its cars. They are pledged to fix it.

Kathleen Wynne and her sidekick, Liz Sandals, are still in charge and driving the public education system into the grave of John Ross Robertson, a key individual who originally set up Ontario’s public education system.

This government has participated in a deal with three teacher unions in payoffs totaling $7.1 million. In exchange for labour peace the quid pro quo of the teacher union’s exclusive support, the unions contributed money and manpower, to the Ontario Liberal party.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was a party to this in the last three provincial elections, first as Minister of Education and more recently as Premier.

The unmitigated folly of these two former public school trustees, thanks to a leaked secret 42-page document to the Globe and Mail, has created a political firestorm of outrage by the public. Thousands of elementary pupils, their parents and the taxpayers are at the mercy of the Elementary Teacher Federation of Ontarto (ETFO) and the government negotiators.

The strategy that backfired on the Wynne Liberals, authors of this debacle

The ETFO is the largest teacher’s union in Ontario. It is the only public education union that refused to accept the million dollar government bonuses.

Last August, three unions settled a new contract, including a 2.5% increase and were paid as follows: The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), $1 million with 66,000 members; the Ontario English Catholic High Teachers Asssociation (OECTA), $1 million with 33,000 members, and the French language teachers (AEFO), $500,000 with 10,000 members.

But the ETFO refused to agree to a similar settlement and refused any so-called, undocumented payment for additional bargaining costs such as the other three major unions had received.

Today, Premier Wynne, announced that receipts were required before any under the counter payments were made. This was a complete slap in the face for Minister Sandals who told the media that her department did not require receipts because they were familiar with the costs of the union negotiating team.

Instead, negotiations broke down. To make its point the ETFO leadership moved to its job action program that started to inconvenience children and parents. Today, October 28, the teachers will leave the classroom at 3:15 and refuse to participate in parent/teacher interviews, will not write report cards, or work on any extracurricular activities.

It would appear that the premier is saying the offer the other three unions accepted, is still on the table. She has threatened to start docking the pay of those elementary teachers who do not carry out their responsibilities and end their job action starting this weekend.

So because the EFTO refuses to agree to the government’s demand to settle on its terms; because the EFTO won’t accept under the table payments or donate money to the Liberals; because the EFTO has some regard for its responsibility to the children and their parents; they are left with no choice.

The Wynne Liberals are determined to bring the ETFO to heel and accept their terms.

For Premier Wynne and Minster Liz Sandals to continue to inconvenience the lives of elementary pupils and parents for their party’s personal gain and to maintain power, is an unconscionable misuse of their fiduciary responsibility and public trust.

It’s time to resign, both of you, and turn out the lights when you leave.


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The Wynning Way: The Premier can’t handle a two-out fly ball

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 1, 2015

Guelph, Ontario – There are two developments that have occurred under the Wynne watch at Queen’s Park. Both are self-inflicted by a premier who doesn’t seem to grasp that you cannot continue to spend tax dollars that you don’t have. For the seventh year in a row, the Ontario Liberals have held the reins of power and have spent more money than it had taken in from the taxpayers.

Today, Ontario is carrying a $10 billion plus deficit. That does not include the most recent example of spending $61 million on a Northeast Ontario telecommunications system called Ontara. Bell Aliant purchased the system for $6.3 million.

In its wisdom, the Liberals hired consultants, lawyers and “other advisors” to expedite the deal with Bell Aliant that cost taxpayers $6.5 million.

It’s the latest in a series of bungled fiscal management issues that have plagued Premier Kathleen Wynne, who succeeded Dalton McGuinty in the eight-year plundering of the Ontario treasury.

The gas plant demolitions are still around

Let’s start with the demolition of the two natural gas-fired power plants under construction in Mississauga and Oakville. They were decommissioned just before the provincial election because there were four Liberal members of the legislature that were facing defeat if the government completed the plants. The decision by the McGuinty government worked so well that the four were elected and gave the Liberals a majority in the Legislature.

It took two years to learn that ghastly project, part of McGuinty’s plan to reduce climate change, cost Ontario taxpayers just over $1 billion to tear down and clean up and settle aborted contracts.

It was nimby-ism gone wild.

Let’s turn to the latest scam perpetrated by an elected government — the semi-privatization of Hydro One. The premier is adamant that 60 per cent of the huge public corporation will be sold. The figures are assumed, as the offering of the private sector has not yet been made public.

Undaunted, the premier says the sale will gross $9 billion to the province. When $5 million is used to reduce Hydro One’s massive debt, the premier will be left with $4 billion to invest in infrastructure, but not reducing the provincial debt of $10 billion.

For many years now, consumers have been paying a portion of their electric bill for debt reduction of the former Ontario Hydro. Yet, with millions collected, the government has never been given the figures of how much that $34, billion amassed by the former Ontario Hydro has been reduced.

Nor has there been any annual report of the debt reduction plan or when the old debt will be paid off. Or are the public utilities collecting the debt repayment charges then submitting it to the government or the agency responsible?

It is one of the deepest secrets perpetuated on the public be a provincial govertment agency.

Why is the Wynne government imposing this sale?

The polls show that the majority of Ontarians oppose selling Hydro One. Yet the premier pushes on with the advice coming from Ed Clark, former CEO of the Toronto Dominion Canada Trust bank. He is the one who recommended offering beer in supermarkets. Instead, he opted not to end the foreign beer maker’s monopoly of price fixing and exclusively distributing beer in the province.

The Hydro One sale is another Clark-driven plan to free up badly needed capital for the Kathleen Wynne Liberals. The effect of this proposal will take years to establish whether it was a good idea at the time, or not.

Another disturbing part of this sale is the salary to be paid to Mayo Schmidt, the new chief of the privatized Hydro One. He is to receive up to $4,000,000 a year. That’s four times the salary of his predecessor, Carmine Marcello. But Marcello will be staying on in the new company earning $500,000 a year to facilitate the turn over to Schmidt and the new owners.

Despite these excessive salaries and benefits, the premier insists that the province will retain operational control of the new Hydro One. When you sell off 60 per cent of the utility, perhaps the premier should explain how the government retains control?

So, deny breakfasts for those students coming to school hungary

This is the same government that cannot manage its primary and secondary education systems. The only way, it seems, is to pay off the union teachers and support staff contract increases with money the government doesn’t have.

Earlier this year, Premier Kathleen Wynne told the parties involved that the government had no money to meet their demands.

Regardless, almost all of the teacher unions agreed to accept a 2.5 per cent increase plus increased benefits. The lame explanation from Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, was the money needed would be a “net zero” change in the education budget. She failed to say which programs would be dumped to accommodate the teacher’s increases.

Just two years ago the Wynne/Sandals duo paid $463 million to the various teacher unions to stop job actions that were creating distrust and anger among students and parents.

Despite the schools being open for three weeks this September, two remaining unions are working to rule because their contracts expired more than a year ago. This job action is denying students services and complicating life for thousands of families.

Kathleen Wynne needs to seek advisors who will get her out of the financial mess that she has created without the help of former banker Ed Clark. Business, and the business of politics, are two different worlds that do not cohabitate well.

The formula is simple, Premier, cut costs. Now in your second year of the four-year term it is the right time to tighten up costs and reduce capital spending.

Otherwise, the alternative is not attractive.

Retired newspaper executive, Gerry Barker is the editor of guelphspeaks.ca, a blog commenting on community, provincial and national affairs. He may be reached at: gerrybarker76@gmail.com


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Your guelphspeaks Weekender

Posted August 28, 2015

Liz Sandals is the candy lady when it comes to union negotiations – City management purge surges – Christians and Soldiers 10, Seagram 0 – Important reminder – Chief Larkin’s Dilemma

 Ontario high school teachers are paid off … again

This past week, the two high school teacher’s unions were presented with a package from the province. The proposal, still to be ratified by the unions, includes a 2.5 per cent pay increase over two years of a three-year contract. And doubling the number of paid professional development and sick days.

Education Minister Liz Sandals called the proposals a “net zero” deal. Interpretation: A “net zero” agreement means that savings must be found elsewhere in the massive Ontario education budget to offset any increase in wages and benefits.

The last time the province, under then Premier Dalton McGuinty, negotiated with the teacher unions it legislated a pay freeze. Kathleen Wynne, McGuinty’s replacement, along with Education Minister, Liz Sandals, reopened the contracts giving back $469 million. It happened close to the provincial election.

Not exactly a “net zero” settlement.

The Premier refuses to describe the wage hikes in the current contract, an increase in compensation. Her detachment from financial reality is just another bump in the road to her legacy of driving Ontario into the ditch. The province is spending almost a billion dollars a month in interest alone and carrying a $8.5 billion dollar deficit.

As for Sandals, our “go along to get along” Education Minister, she has to sign off on this phoney “net zero” agreement. The full details of which are yet to be revealed.

The bottom line is that there are other unions involved in the school system. The school operating staff is represented by the Canadian Union of Pubic Employees. Its leadersip is far from a contract agreement. The result is that those teachers who have agreed to the new contract provisions may be left standing at the doors of their respective schools, September 8 without the custodial staff.

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A senior manager is fired as the purge of city staff mounts

Chief city building officer, Bruce Poole, a 31-year veteran manager and head of the building department was fired Wednesday from his $137, 825 a year job. Mr. Poole had headed the building department for the past 20 years.

As usual, the city officials clammed up, not offering any explanation of why Poole was dismissed without notice. The city response was: “You’ll have to ask him”.

This means that he was terminated for cause. He was fired.

In private industry and corporations, this is common practice. The city’s General Manager of Human Resources, David Godwaldt, said the firing was completed, using the rules of termination of non-unionized employees established by the city in such cases.

But here’s where this half-baked explanation goes off the rails.

The City of Guelph is a publically funded corporation. It has a fiduciary responsibility to advise the shareholders, we the citizens, of the circumstances of the dismissal of a senior manager.

But this is nothing new. In 2007, the new city administration headed by former mayor Karen Farbridge, fired the city’s top senior managers: Chief Administrative Officer Larry Kotseff, and Chief Financial Officer, David Kennedy.

It took two years to discover the cost of those dismissals made without cause. In addition to their entitled accumulated benefits, Mr. Kotseff and Mr. Kennedy received a settlement of more than $500,000.

If it is established that Mr. Poole is guilty of an unknown action that impaired his ability to function, the legal costs to uphold the city’s actions could still be very expensive. But if the city fired Mr. Poole without proper cause, then the price we’ll have to pay will be substantial.

Either way, by shutting down any information will end up being a costly exercise and remains a case of woeful personnel management.

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NDP candidate slams Christians and Soldiers, or was it all a joke?

Dear Andrew Seagram: In politics the rule of thumb is not to get anyone mad at you.

Well, you suggest that you want nothing to do with Christians who are “huge friends of Jesus or the mentally ill, and you must stay away from them”.

After that outburst, you can count on them staying away from supporting you election day in October.

Hey Andrew! Don’t rest on those targets on you bigotry bucket list. You are then quoted as describing our military as “suicide bombers.”

“Idolizing our soldiers as heroes is as dangerous as proselytizing a suicide bomber as a martyr”.

Last time I looked, this self-styled bigotry and historical ignorance was not included in Tom Mulcair’s NDP platform.

Even if you believe it was a joke, a bad one at that, and taken out of context, why would you deliberately insult potential NDP voters in Guelph and across the country?

Keep up the good work.

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Important Reminder

The deadline for submissions to the September 10th Municipal Elections Compliance Audit Committee must be submitted by this Friday, September 4. The committee will receive Mr. William Molson’s report regarding his audit of the election expenses of ward six candidate, Glen Tolhurst.

This hearing is the result of a complaint by Susan Watson that Mr. Tolhurst received a $400 donation to his campaign from GrassRoots Guelph that she described as being illegal.

The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.

Despite being an awkward time for many people, it is the culmination of an investigation that may have negative long-term effects on the rights of citizens to organize and collectively express their opinions. A threat that could impair future municipal elections causing unwarranted litigation.

Guelphspeaks.ca will publish the GrassRoots Guelph written submission later this week.

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Is Waterloo Police Chief Bryan Larkin involved in a pickle?

This week, Chief Larkin was asked on Kitchener’s CTV station about a former female officer who had resigned from the force when faced with unknown allegations, then recently rehired as a special officer.

The chief declined to detail the former allegations as they were apparently made under the Ontario Police Act. The KW Police Services Board accepted the officer’s resignation.

Now it is revealed the lady is back on the force and the chief is unwilling to explain, except to say that the matter is being reviewed in view of the public response.

The whole question of the behavior of police officers in Ontario needs a dramatic overhaul by the province. The fact that the Ontario Police Act states that any police officer under investigation for breaking the rules, is put on administrative leave at full pay and allowances until, the matter is adjudicated by the courts or police service boards in the 444 muncipalities across the province.

There are many instances where police officers are charged under the Police Act or in criminal courts whose cases are not heard for months and, in some cases, years. This is a hardship on municipalities who must pay for police services, whether the officer is working or not.

Yet, the provincial government continues to ignore the need to change the out-dated Police Act that allows this feather-bedding action to be an unwarranted charge on the taxpayers .

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