Support Education Workers this World Day for Decent Work

October 07, 2022

Today's the World Day for Decent Work, and we’re pulling out all the stops to support decent work for education workers. 

Ontario's education workers matter

Underfunded schools put kids at risk

Chronic underfunding of Ontario’s schools left our kids vulnerable when the pandemic hit. Between 2017 and 2022, per student funding actually fell by an average of $800. Poor ventilation, inadequate cleaning and over-crowded classrooms meant our schools weren’t safe for students during the pandemic. As a result, Ontario experienced more school closures than anywhere else in Canada. [1][2] 

And while there is overwhelming support for employer-paid sick days for all of us, it is shocking to learn the provincial government is demanding concessions from education workers that would reduce access to paid sick leave. Inadequate sick days is a public health concern that jeopardizes our communities. 

Healthy communities need good, local jobs

By 2021, education workers had experienced a real dollar pay cut of almost 11%.[3]  Since then, record-breaking inflation has further eroded workers' earnings. Education workers make $39,000 a year on average. This means many earn far less than $20 an hour. As a result, more than HALF of all education workers are juggling second jobs in order to make ends meet.

Just imagine what it would mean if the Ontario minimum wage were $20 an hour. Imagine what it would mean if all workers had legislated equal pay protection, so that employers can’t pay us less just because we work part-time or are on a temporary contract.

Education workers are fighting for many of the same demands we are. They're asking for:

  • Decent wages that pay the bills; 
  • Equal pay and equal benefits;
  • Preservation of paid sick days; 
  • A designated early childhood educator in every kindergarten classroom; and
  • Staffing ratios that make it possible for everyone to do their job with the care and attention students deserve. 

Paint the province purple!

If education workers win, it will pave the way for the legislative changes we all need to improve working conditions for everyone.

Will you help paint the province purple?

Here's how:

If you don’t have a printer, order your posters now by sending an email to: [email protected] and we’ll get them to you ASAP. If you live in Toronto, you can pick up posters and purple ribbon outside Suite 223 at 720 Spadina Avenue, south of Spadina Station. 

  • Tie or display purple ribbons visibly around your home or at a school in your community. Tie ribbons on your door, your balcony, or decorate your front yard with ribbons. 

  • Let your MPP know you support education workers.  

Collage of postering

Minimum wage and CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup

This Thanksgiving weekend on Sunday, October 9 at 4:00 pm EDT CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup will be talking about minimum wage rates across Canada. This is a chance for minimum wage earners and other low-wage workers to sound off about why we all deserve better wages and working conditions. 

Call in by phone at 1-888-416-8333 

  • To maximize your chances of getting to speak, try calling early (even 10 minutes before the show starts). And keep redialing if your call is dropped.
  • If you get through, do your best to keep your comments short, even if you have a lot to say. Try to reduce your thoughts to 3 key points you want to make.   

You can also share your views on social media. Be sure to use the hashtag: #Justice4Workers so we can share your posts.

If you'd like a refresher on why we need a $20 minimum wage, check out:

Join our next October 18 decent work organizing meeting

Our October 18 online organizing meeting begins at 7:00 pm EDT and will be crucial for planning actions to support education workers. With a focus on the education sector (from early-childhood to post-secondary education) this particular organizing meeting will be an opportunity to pull our struggles together and build the kind of momentum employers and the Ford government can’t ignore.

Now let's go paint our province purple!

Rajean Hoilett
Justice for Workers team

[1] Ontario school board funding fell by $800 per student over four years, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, April 28, 2022  

[2] Ontario leads the country in COVID-19 school closures, Ottawa Citizen, June 4, 2022. 

[3] Why these Ontario educational assistants believe they deserve a raise,, October 6, 2022