Political Action Report, ARM Chapter 12 Executive Meeting
November 11, 2020
ARM Political Action 2019-20
Since the election of the Ford government in June 2018, our chapter has worked to expose the right wing agenda of this Conservative government that is so evident in its educational and health policies. When the government announced that it intended to increase the student teacher ratio, cut teachers, and mandate four on line courses, we appealed to our members to contact or write their MPP’s to protest these regressive policies. The series of rotating strikes in 2019, and the full province wide strike in February 2020 saw many of our members walking the line with teachers throughout the city.
The eruption of Covid 19 in March closed the schools for six months. We turned our attention to the mounting tragedy of Covid deaths in long-term care homes. We wrote articles for After School, discussed it at our virtual meetings, joined in on the Ontario Health Coalition’s conference this fall on the issue, and plan to have both Natalie Mehta of the OHC, and former OSSTF President Malcolm Buchanan speak on the issue at our virtual luncheon in February 2021. Throughout, we have urged our members to speak out about the Ford’s government neglect of long-term care, and its support of for- profit care homes where most of the deaths have occurred.
With the opening of the schools in September 2020, the underfunding and refusal of the government to hire more teachers to lessen the hazards of crowded classrooms signaled that the right wing drift of this government has not abated. The Federation held its political action conference on Zoom in November 2020 to prepare a political campaign against the Conservatives.
The theme of the conference set by Harvey Bischof was clear and stark. The Ford government is working to undermine support for public schools.
Their actions such as increasing the student teacher ratio, and mandating four on-line courses before the pandemic hit were only modified slightly after March 2020. The government has not reduced class sizes, and makes no effort to consult with the Federation. In Harvey’s words, Conservatives still see education as an expense, not an investment. The OSSTF decided to go all out, starting now, to prepare for the provincial election to unseat the Conservatives in June 2022.
The conference’s keynote speaker was journalist and author Linda McQuaig. She gave an absorbing speech based on ideas from her latest book, The Sport and Prey of Capitalists to build the case for public education and health. Linda emphasized that public enterprises, not private ones, are the historic, Canadian institutions best able to respond to essential public needs. She was scathing in denouncing the Ford government’s educational and health policies, calling it ‘crony capitalism’. She was cautiously optimistic, however, that Ontario citizens who have come to admire the nurses, personal support workers, and teachers facing down virus daily will come to value public health care and public education even more.
Chapter 12 will continue to support the OSSTF’s political campaign, and the Ontario Health Coalition’s drive to save patients in long term care homes.