To Deb Matthews, Ontario Minister of Education:
The five-week strike by college teachers is inexcusable. First of all, this is a public sector union. Therefore, the college teachers answer to US, the people who pay their salaries through taxes. Secondly, the provincial government is supposed to represent US, the people who pay YOUR exorbitant salaries, too. Maybe you’ve forgotten, but YOU work for US, not the other way around.
This should have been resolved within one week, at most. As the Minister of Education for the province of Ontario, you should have gotten them back to the table the day after the strike began, and should have pushed back-to-work legislation by that Thursday. Instead, we get mealy-mouthed excuses about how the government is ‘letting the parties resolve the issue through the negotiation process.’ As one of your employers, I am telling you, that is unacceptable, particularly since everyone with a functioning brain knows that the current leadership in this province has spent the past fourteen years kowtowing to the teachers unions of all stripes.
Students pay a LOT of money to attend college, and there is a contract involved. If we don’t pay, we don’t graduate. Well, what happens when we pay, but the teachers don’t teach us what we are required to learn to graduate? Do you think that losing five weeks can be made up by extending the term by two? Not only that, but we’re going to lose a) the winter break/Reading Week, and b) three weeks off the second term, as well.
Let me put this in terms a politician can understand. Half a million students, all of whom are old enough to vote in elections, have just been given a very impactful lesson in how public sector unions can have a profound, negative effect on their lives. Of that half million, let’s be generous and say that 20% of them aren’t Canadian, or at least aren’t from Ontario. That leaves approximately 400,000 young voters who are very unhappy with how their government has handled the situation. How many of them do you think are going to ever consider voting Liberal or NDP in the future? Here’s a clue: None that I’ve spoken with.
Don’t expect any kudos for ‘fixing’ things after waiting five weeks to do something. The fact that it took this long shows that the provincial government cares more about its political donors than the people they are supposed to represent. And in case you weren’t aware, people have become a lot more politically aware in the past few years, and far less willing to tolerate elitist arrogance. If you don’t believe me, take a look at what’s going on south of the border. The winds are changing, and the storm is coming.
Lambton College student