We’ve only reach mid-May and we still have reached the one-year anniversary of the election of the Ford Conservatives in Ontario. I say that because it has felt a lot longer, given the steady stream of news of about cuts, fibs and downright crazy stories that has come from this party in power. Remember that crazy story from a month ago about the late-night phone call one Ontarian got from the Premier? Yeah, so very 2019, right? Well if you thought that one was good, we might have a better one that’s come out on social media today:
For a short voicemail, there is a lot to unpack here. For starters, I’m quite amazed that this Premier left a voice message saying what he said, as if he had no clue that it would come out or would go over poorly. But beyond the gobsmacking nature of the fact that there is even a recording of this call is the content itself. In it, Ford continues to tell the outright lie that “no teacher is getting laid off”, despite the fact that thousands of teachers across Ontario have already received redundancy notices. Teachers are getting laid off, that is a verified and well reported fact, and more boards still need to make their announcements.
But the Premier didn’t stop there, he kept going. He then uttered words that I guarantee are going to be ringing in the ears of teachers all across Ontario, when he said “I Wish They’d Stop Complaining”. He then makes a bit of a veiled cheap shot, when he says that “a million people would love to have the teacher’s job”. I say it’s a cheap shot because previously Ford has made comments about teachers, saying they have it great because they get months off and have it so easy. That’s the kind of comment we hear when teachers are getting attacked, called lazy and such, but also ignores the reality that teachers face, who work long hours outside of school, on weekends, on their holidays and spend a lot of their summers upgrading their skills and taking courses. Teaching is very hard work, and comments like Ford’s play into an incorrect trope that undermines and undervalues the work that teachers do.
But it’s not just that kind of disregard for the profession that has teachers upset these days. Remember the snitch line the Conservatives put in last year? The attacks on Sexual Education? And now the mass lay offs happening? Those are all good reasons for teachers to be upset but yesterday news broke of another thing that is sure to add to that frustration and anger:
Yep, they are looking at going after teachers’ sick days. Not only have teachers already had that allotment cut by half by the previous government, it looks like Ford and crew are looking to scale that back even more because people are using what they get. Yep, more salt in the wound. But what makes this worse is the overall effect this is going to have on the school system. This government is already scraping class size caps, so you’re going to have bigger classrooms, more kids with special needs in those classrooms, and no extra supports for the teachers there. That is going to lead to much more stress for those teachers, stress that those sick days can help to alleviate. But now that the Ford Conservatives have decided to crank up the pressure on these professionals, you’re going to take away part of what will help them deal with that pressure? That’s just not on and is going to make what was already going to be terrible contract negotiations this Fall even worse.
So far, the “Ford Experience” in Ontario has been rough, there is no doubting it. That also helps to explain why teachers are complaining. But the thing is, it’s not just teachers that are upset these days, and that is something that became clearer this week too:
Again, I repeat we haven’t even reached the first anniversary of this government. That’s bad polling for them, but given everything that’s happened, it’s far from shocking. The Ford Conservatives ran on balancing the books with no pain, saying that no one would lose their jobs and that everything would be great. That was completely unbelievable at the time and today we’re seeing why. And if Doug Ford is wishing that teachers would stop complaining because “they’ve got it so good” under his rule, I wonder what he’ll say in the next voicemail about the next group he feels is voicing too much displeasure. I doubt it will be good, but I feel safe in saying that somehow it will be recorded in some way and we’ll see it or hear it.