Tag Archives: OSSTF

Your GuelphSpeaks Weekender

By Gerry Barker

Posted November 22, 2015

Here’s this week’s line-up:

* The city of Guelph according to Chairman Piper

*   Some Adult truths to tickle your fancy

* The city reserve funds are on life support

* Life aboard Liz Sandals’ submarine

 

Leanne Piper bares herself as a Farbridge loyalist

Coun. Leanne Piper has a bagful of opinions and has become the defacto leader of the elected Farbridge Gang 0f Seven (FGOS) who currently dominate city council. It is a group dedicated to carry on the Farbridge agenda that more than 48 per cent of electors rejected last October.

Here we are a year later, and the bloc voting of FGOS is paralyzing the people’s business. They include: Leanne Piper, Cathy Downer, Karl Wettstein, June Hofland, Mike Salisbury, Phil Allt and James Gordon, the godfather of the Farbridge agenda.

The remaining councillors include Mayor Cam Guthrie, Dan Gibson, Bob Bell, Andy Van Hellemond, Christine Billings and Mark MacKinnon.

Leanne Piper posted a message June 3, 2014 with the heading, “Mayor Karen Farbridge Recognized for Leadership.”

Piper went on to say that “we don’t recognize how well regarded our city and our Mayor are until we leave the city limits. The Canadian Urban Institute knows that great cities are no accident. Leadership at all levels – politicians, staff and community – work together to develop and achieve great things. Congratulations, Karen!”

Now it’s appropriate for a councillor to support the mayor. But the date of this pronouncement from Chairman Piper suggests adoration and responsibility do not mix. Especially when the city has been found guilty of wrongful dismissal of Urbacon Buildings Group Corp., the general contractor of the new City Hall. The cost of this decision made in September 2008 is currently $23 million. That’s above the original project cost of $44 million totaling $67 million plus HST.

The city set aside no funds in the event it lost the lawsuit initiated by Urbacon. There was no admission of responsibility by neither Mayor Farbridge nor any of her majority of supporters including Leanne Piper, Karl Wettstein, June Hofland, and Mike Salisbury. These councillors are part of the FGOS dominating city council today.

The Farbridge legacy is a hangover of mismanagement of personal environmental projects, ego, and lack of financial control of public funds. It has left the city with a multi-million dollar shortfall in reserve funds, critical condition of our aging infrastructure and a dysfunctional staff.

Yes Leanne, you are to be congratulated for being a key player in creating the irresponsible actions of a Farbridge-led council gone wild.

It will take years to return Guelph into a fiscal condition to repair the handiwork of your leader.

Time for a rethink, Leanne.

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Some adult truths to tickle your fancy

            * Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch three consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

* Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

* There is great need for a sarcasm font.

* Was learning cursive really necessary?

* Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

* Bad decisions make good stories.

* I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when    they call.

* I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more     kisses begin with Molson Export than Kay.

* I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

* How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?

* I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front.

* The first testicular guard, the “Cup,” was used in hockey in 1874 and the first helmet in hockey was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

By Anonymous

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Whatever happened to all those reserve funds?

The city hired a consultant group from Hamilton to conduct an operations review. BMA reported that the city’s reserve funds, except the water reserve, were in a “red flag cautionary” mode.

What does this mean to the average citizen? Not much really except that it will drive taxes and fees up to replenish the under-funded reserves.

There are three reserves that were raided by the former administration to pay the $8.96 million settlement costs to Urbacon Buildings Group Corp as a result of losing a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

There was a recent report that the reserves’ shortfall was due in part because of the Urbacon settlement. However in the past eight years of the Far bridge administration, the reserves were often used to provide internal capital to cover mistakes, cost overruns, pet projects, and a number of other issues.

In short, the administration used the reserves as an ATM to conduct the city business; spending money outside the budget.

They did it because staff had the backing of the leadership, both elected and senior staff. In eight years, the city staff has been stocked with Friends of Farbridge (FOFS) and senior staff. Many of these employees do not live in Guelph. Yet they are making decisions that affect not only the tax and user fees rates but have done it with immunity.

One of the problems that got us into this mess was the lack of a Chief Financial Officer who could provide the necessary checks and balances required in a $500 million corporation.

The Farbridge Gang of Seven is still blocking necessary reforms to restore fiscal responsibility to the city.

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Liz Sandals is in her submarine as the system crumbles

It’s hard to imagine why Liz Sandals is still Minister of Education. While the Ontario education system is in tatters, Liz submerges beneath the ocean of discontent.

Her public comments reveal a Minister without common sense, respect for the students, the parents and the taxpayers.

Some classics:

When questioned by reporters following the Globe and Mail revealing the secret $2.5 million pay off to three teacher unions to cover extra negotiating costs, she said it was “nothing about anything.”

When asked if the unions supplied receipts to back up the payments, Sandals replied that it wasn’t necessary because she was familiar with the added costs. She said, “ you don’t have to see every bill when you’re doing an estimate of costs.”

Premier Wynne later jumped in and said the unions had to supply receipts for fear that the Sandals statement would cause a wave of expense account manipulations when receipts were not required.

The Minister refused to say how much the government spent on its own negotiating costs.

Under her leadership, Sandals has caused major disruption in the everyday operations of Ontario’s Schools. It has been going on for 18 months and still going on as unions remain engaged in work to rule, obstructing the normal operations of thousands of Ontario Schools.

Even the principals of those schools are powerless to properly operate the institutions that are responsible for educating future generations. Union-ordered cancelled field trips, report cards, extracurricular activities and only allow parent consultations if they feel like it.

The teacher unions have to step back and let the process continue as it should without the cheesy, obstructionism that is out of control. It’s that way because the Wynne government allowed it to happen. The convoluted “new” two-tiered system of negotiating with the union and the school boards has been an unmitigated disaster.

And next year, the negotiating process starts all over again.

This isn’t about politics, it’s about responsibility to keep labour peace and supply our children with a quality and productive education.

Time to say goodbye Liz. With you in charge nothing will change.

 

 

 

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Is the teacher union payoffs Kathleen Wynne’s “Walkerton” moment?

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 27, 2015

It is interesting to note that right here in Ontario, there are two trials going on.

One, is the drawn out trial of Senator Mike Duffy charged with 31 counts of conspiracy and bribery over his expenses as a senator. The 46-day trial was postponed until after the federal election and resumes this week.

The bribery charge against Duffy is accepting a $93,000 cheque from Nigel Wright, former chief of staff to then Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It was paid to shut down the growing scandal that threatened the Conservative government.

The prosecution is composed of lawyers employed by the Ontario government because the alleged offenses occurred in Ottawa.

In his new role of Prime Minister designate, Justin Trudeau would be wise to ask Premier Wynne to call off her legal hounds and wrap up the Duffy trial. Turn it back to the Senate for adjudication where it belonged in the first place.

The second trial is an avalanche of facts posted by the media totaling $7.1 million given to three teachers unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) locals who support the education system and the school boards.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has termed the practice “normal.” Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, MPP, Guelph, and her feckless response paying union negotiation costs was “actually has nothing to do with anything.” That sounds like a line from Seinfeld, “It’s a show about nothing.”

Those Looney Tune responses besmirch the offices of both women displaying a high degree of arrogance.

So, tell me, what’s the difference between Duffy charged with getting $93,000 to pay his travel expenses, and the government paying $7.1 million to settle demands of the teachers and support unions?

It’s like 50 Shades of Grey. In this case it’s the taxpayers and democratic principles that are getting royally screwed.

When all else fails, bribe them

The Wynne government has continually bribed the unions with special payments to settle contracts. It’s a practice that started three provincial elections ago.

It was only just revealed by the Globe and Mail last week when it obtained a secret, 42-page document detailing the bribes. Bribes totaling $2.5 million, given to the Ontario Secondary Teachers Federation, ($1 million) the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA), ($1 million) and the French teacher union des enseignantes et des enseignantes franco-ontario (AEFO), ($500,000)

New evidence reveals that these same unions, receiving millions since 2007, have paid some $6.1 million supporting the Ontario Liberals in the last three elections.

The byzantine system of paying only the Liberal party and its candidates but it also included the teacher’s union-sponsored organization, Working Families of Ontario. It produced anti-Progressive Conservative TV ads aimed particularly at P.C. leader Tim Hudak in the 2014 provincial election.

In fact, the OSSTF largesse included giving money to three candidates in the 2013 Liberal Leadership race with $10,000 each to Kathleen Wynne and Eric Hoskins and $5,000 to Gerard Kennedy.

The teacher unions have steadfastly supported the Liberals and not the New Democrats who traditionally are supported by the labour movement.

In all these revelations, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has not received any negotiation funding from the government and refuses to accept it.

As a bloc, the members of the teachers unions have actively participated in political elections, supporting the Liberals but not only with money but on-the ground organizational help. With more than 100,000 members in three teacher’s unions, it presents a formidable political powerhouse.

Activist targets Guelph

For our Guelph readers, the recent claim by political activist Susan Watson about GrassRoots Guelph being a third party in last year’s civic election, pales in comparison in what the Liberal Party of Ontario has paid to education unions over the years to settle contracts.

Watson’s costly and fruitless exercise cost Guelph taxpayers $11,400. Tell us Susan, how much did your union friends contribute to the Farbridge campaign and her council supporters? Didn’t you argue that third party support in provincial and federal elections is not allowed?

The similarities still add up to bribes.

It has cost the Ontario government thousands of dollars to prosecute Mike Duffy for criminal charges.

As in the Duffy case, when do the police charge the Premier, the Minister of Education and the union leaders for conspiracy to bribe and thwart long established principles of avoiding such a serious conflict of interest?

In our opinion, there are two things that need to happen.

The first is to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the circumstances of these millions of taxpayer dollars that have been spent both by the government and the unions for self interest. There is no separation of the source of these funds; it all came from the taxpayers.

Second, Minister Sandals should resign before she embarrasses herself any more than she already has. For her part, the Premier should apologize to the people of Ontario for being a party to these obvious illegal occurrences. That apology includes asking the legislature to approve forming a Royal Commission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ontario’s education system has been corrupted by secret payments to unions

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 26, 2015

Gradually the public is learning how Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, MPP Guelph, have corrupted bargaining with the teacher unions. So far, as the details are leaked, the bill to taxpayers since 2008 has been $3,741 million. This information came from Sandals via email late Friday to escape coverage in the weekend media news cycle.

With this stunning admission, what did the unions do with the money? Why were these payments made by the Ministry of Education? Apparently the payoffs for showing up for bargaining were initiated in 2008 by the then Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynne.

She now says it was “normal” to make these payments. If the Premier of Ontario doesn’t know the difference between normal and bribery managing her previous portfolio as Minister of Education, she has destroyed public trust and should lool for other work.

So Liz Sandals, her pal and confidant, in charge of the education portfolio since 2013, has managed to put the Ontario education system into a constant state of turmoil, anger, uncertainty and confusion.

The trouble is that there are two Ministers of Education in Ontario. Kathleen Wynne left a potential legacy of corruption by disruption that was left to her pal Liz Sandals.

What this duo of trustees of the public purse, both former members of local school boards, has accomplished is a betrayal of the students, their parents and the taxpayers.

In polite circles, that could warrant criminal charges for bribery of public unions done in secrecy and without public recourse.

At the very least, there should be a Royal Commission investigation into the entire public education systems and the payouts to the teacher and support staff unions. This unprecedented action by the government to pay off unions to settle what occurred this fall warrants such an inquiry.

And now the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) is threatening to start job action even after a $1 million payment to reimburse their negotiating costs to settle. It now appears that money will be paid 90 days after the settlement. This is estimated to be late in November.

Does this mean the government may renege on its promise because of the public reaction to the payoffs? Don’t hold your breath. To reinforce the political alliance with the Wynne government, union official Ann Hawkins, stated that she finds it “offensive” that people would even question the $1 million payment to her union. The money was allegedly for reimbursement of union expenses encountered in negotiating with the government.

The Ministry did not require receipts for the $1 million union costs nor were they offered. Is this the right way to manage the taxpayer’s money? Just give taxpayer money away without receipts?

But the cat was among the canaries when Minister Sandals admitted Friday that the total “bonus” payments to education-centred unions since 2008, was $3.741 million. This was money that did not trickle down to the union members but was delivered to the union management.

A more interesting element is the timing of the Globe and Mail report revealing the union payments. It was first published in the Wednesday editions of the paper, two days after the federal election won handily by the Liberals.

Is it possible this was a case of protecting the Wynne-Trudeau alliance prior to the election?

Well it certainly worked for Mr. Trudeau, not so much for Kathleen Wynne and her fiends in the teacher and support unions.

With more than 200,000 unionized teachers and support staff workers in Ontario, it provides a solid bloc supporting the Liberals in elections. At least former Liberal premier, Dalton McGuinty, took steps to curtail the rapid rising costs of the education portfolio. It cost him his job. Wynne and her sidekick, Liz Sandals, took over and rolled back the McGuinty initiatives to curtail education spending, mostly to the union members.

The glaring example of this was the spending in 2013 by the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, of $464 million to placate the unions who were working to rule and causing turmoil among students and parents alike.

When announcing settlement with three teacher unions last August, Sandals said the 2.5 per cent salary increases would not impact the costs of education because it was a net zero increase. This means that the money was taken from another program to pay the teachers. That program was a $20 million fund to assist struggling high school students to graduate. Under Sandals watch, the government halted annual funding for this program three years ago.

So a student program was used to pay the teachers’ union bosses. Who knew? Certainly not the students, the parents or the taxpayers.

Gerry Barker is a retired newspaper executive who lives in Guelph. His blog, guelphspeaks.ca, comments on municipal, provincial and national affairs. He may be reached at gerrybarker76@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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Sandals admits the Liberals have been bribing teacher unions since 2003

By Gerry Barker

Posted October 23, 2015

The second day of the teacher union payoffs has escalated to $2.5 million paid to three teacher unions to settle contracts. Wednesday this week, a 42-page secret document detailing the payout to the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), was obtained by the Globe and Mail.

The Minister of Education, Liz Sandals, MPP Guelph, admitted during Question Period in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday that this year, three teacher unions were paid bonuses, bribes or adjustment because the period of negotiations was lengthy and costly to the unions.

The Minister admitted yesterday that the unions did not submit any receipts or records of the money they spent in the lengthy negotiation time to justify the $1 million payouts to cover their costs.

It brings back memories of the Calgary consultants hired to the E-Health project who charged $25 for afternoon tea while in Toronto plus frequent first class flights between Calgary and Toronto.

The Minister said the union payments were made because the government changed the bargaining system and the process of adapting to the new system was costly to the unions.

Now it appears the taxpayers are paying the money thanks to the decision by the Minister of Education who had to sign off the payments.

But one teacher’s union, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO), is still trying to settle a new contract after more than a year of negotiating and have not been offered any payment for extended negotiation costs.

Furthermore, they will refuse any offer to reimburse the union for “negotiation costs,” according to ETFO president Sam Hammond.

This leaves the spectre of the entire unionized public sector workers possibly expecting the same million dollar cheque book treatment in the future when they negotiate new contracts.

Ms. Sandals, while admitting the practice of bogus payments for signing has been going since the Liberals took power in 2003, refused to say how much public money has been spent to settle contract negotiations.

The Minister denied that the payments were a bribe to settle the teacher negotiations. Often perception of a situation is more truthful than the line the Ontario Liberals are spinning, Once again they attempt to extricate themselves from acute embarrassment.

Liz Sandals is way out of her depth as Minister of Education. Since her appointment in 2013 by her pal Kathleen Wynne, there has been ongoing turmoil among members of the various teacher and allied unions. Strikes, semi-strikes, working to rule have been the rule.

Ms. Sandals would have us believe that everything is under control except it was the government that radically changed the Teacher and School Board bargaining system that caused the marathon negotiating periods.

Why did they subsidize the unions using public money? The unions all have thousands of members who pay dues for the very purpose of negotiating new contracts.

This secret, barefaced bribe was leaked obviously by someone inside the Ministry who was as disgusted by the payouts as the general public, once the details were discovered.

Don’t expect Sandals to be replaced as Minister because Premier Kathleen Wynne lacks a conscience and besides, she needs Sandals to take the hits over the bumbling education system that is in constant disarray.

And the premior should know more about this than she is letting on.

She was Minister of Education before Liz Sandals took the job.

 

 

 

 

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Last August the Wynne Liberals bribed the High School teachers with $1 million to settle a contract

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.

 

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