"We asked for nothing. They offered us less" - Ontario's teachers
August 31, 2012 5:37 AM   Subscribe

Years of labour peace between the government of Ontario and teachers came to an end this year. Like their colleagues in British Columbia, Ontario teachers and support staff are complaining of unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional legislation -- the Putting Students First Act, 2012 -- that gives the Education Minister, Laura Broten, unchallenged power to ban strikes, job actions, set compensation and benefits, and to take over local school boards who are non-compliant. Ontario school boards are unanimously opposed to the Act, which reduces their power, and so are teachers and support staff, who feel the government is manufacturing a crisis. Most see this as a cynical ploy to capture public support for two by-elections this week that could nudge the Liberal government into majority status. ETFO and OSSTF, two of the teacher unions involved, have repeatedly pointed out that "the school year is not in jeopardy", that they had already accepted a wage freeze, and that local bargaining is proceeding well. As legislation looms aheads, teachers, support staff, and labour activists are wondering: is this the end of collective bargaining for the public sector?

Critics have called the PSF Act "unconstitutional" and "unprecedented" on the grounds that it puts itself above judicial review: no "decision, approval, act, advice, direction, regulation or order made by the Minister or Lieutenant Governor in Council under this Act shall be questioned or reviewed in any court.". This includes challenges under the Labour Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which otherwise enshrine collective bargaining as a right.

The Act is expected to pass this week with the support of the Progressive Conservatives, after only 4.5 hours of public hearings. In response to the impending legislation, thousands of teachers, support staff, and union supporters rallied at Queen's Park on Tuesday, August 28. Conservative leader, Tim Hudak, has promised to support the bill, even though he claims it does not go far enough in imposing a complete public sector wage freeze. Nonetheless, "If you get half a loaf, you take it". Premier McGuinty offers his thanks. The New Democrats, meanwhile, are opposed to anything that restricts collective bargaining and their leader, Andrea Horwath, warns that “Dalton McGuinty knows that an unconstitutional wage legislation scheme will end up costing the public billions when it’s eventually over-ruled by the Courts."

The major players:
Liberal Party - currently forms a minority government
Conservatives - have pledged to suppor the bill (generally considered right-wing)
New Democrats - a left-leaning, labour-friendly party that is opposed

OSSTF - the union representing 60, 000 public high school teachers and support staff
ETFO - the union representing public elementary teachers
OECTA - the union for Catholic teachers; they were the first to accept the government's plan, much to the dismay of the other unions and the Catholic school boards
AEFO - the union of French teachers; they quickly followed OECTA in accepting the government's terms
posted by The Hyacinth Girl (49 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is what you get for hanging around so close to the US. Canada really should move further north, to avoid worsening the infection.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:28 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


“If we want what’s best for kids, we need to respect and work with all of the people who make our schools work,” said Horwath. “Everyone understands that the province is facing tough times. We need to work together and arrive at solutions that work, not unconstitutional wage schemes that are destined to fail.”

Horwath called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to avoid unconstitutional wage schemes and work with teachers and school boards to reach collective agreements.

“Dalton McGuinty knows that an unconstitutional wage legislation scheme will end up costing the public billions when it’s eventually over-ruled by the Courts,” said Horwath. “People won’t be fooled. They’re tired of paying the price for this government’s reckless self-interest.”


Nice little province you have here McGuinty, it would be a shame, you know, if something bad happened to it.

No wonder these Neanderthal public unions are loosing public support.
posted by three blind mice at 7:05 AM on August 31, 2012


tl;dr version:

The current government is hanging on by a thread, and will do anything to appear "fiscally conservative" even at the risk of costing taxpayers billions more just to join the easy pile-on against teachers. (Teachers, those purveyors of scum and treachery, with their professional development requirements and cruelly wanting a fair salary commensurate with the level of education they have invested in.)
posted by clvrmnky at 7:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


In a race to the bottom only the people at the top win.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 7:40 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Ontario and BC education systems have a lot of differences, but speaking of BC's system, it's just a mess: In BC, government has tried to deal with the situation of declining enrollment and static fixed costs by increasing class sizes in order to trim down the teaching workforce. Instead, it caused a year-long strike by teachers (this is very simplistic).

The teachers didn't help their cause any by refusing to issue report cards, and then arrogantly claiming that report cards don't matter.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:02 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other component of the mess that is education in BC is that teacher contracts are negotiated by an employer's association (BCSPEA) and the teacher's union (BCTF), rather than at a local (school district level). It kind of makes sense, especially for the teachers (strength in numbers), but since the government sets per capita funding levels and creates legislation, the BCSPEA doesn't hold any of the cards.

The BCSPEA also is internally divided. It is supposed to represent the 60+ school boards around the province, all of which are elected, and generally reflect and even amplify the hard-right/hard-left split in BC politics. So the BCSPEA, which is effectively powerless, also often sounds ridiculous, because the chairs of bigger (and therefore more powerful school boards) like Vancouver, often contradict its official policy when speaking in the media.

So, last spring, the teacher's strike became more of a confrontation between the Education minister and the BCTF, and the BCSPEA was pushed aside.

So, even leaving political ideology out of it, it's just a strange and dysfunctional system.

Here are a few fast facts about education in BC.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:10 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


The teachers didn't help their cause any by refusing to issue report cards, and then arrogantly claiming that report cards don't matter.

This is also simplistic, too much so I think.

Rather than refight the BC situation here, I'll just note that the Ontario liberals seem to be doing exactly what the BC Liberals did: run to the right, seeing the NDP as the major threat in the next election, by screwing the teachers hard. Now the BC liberals have shockingly low public support, the next election is expected to be a rout, and in the last week four liberal MLAs have announced they're not running in 2013, including the education minister, George Abbot, who was point man for the whole battle, and the Finance Minister, Kevin Falcon (Finance is generally considered the on-deck position for leadership of the party).

The template for destroying the teacher's union was created in the U.S. over the last decade, but it's a bit of a surprise the Ontario liberals are now trying what the BC liberals failed to do (destroy the union or get re-elected). It's the same, right down to passing a blatantly unconstitutional bill that will take effect now, gutting the teachers union's powers, that will get fought in court and torn up in ten years.

Note that, in BC at least, this was directed specifically at the teachers; a year ago the nurses signed a juicy contract with a big raise in it.
posted by fatbird at 8:13 AM on August 31, 2012


TBM, your comments don't really follow from the excerpt what you quoted at all. If a government is proposing legislation that's likely to be overturned as unconstitutional, it is an appropriate role for the opposition to point that out.

Also, unions are supposed to act in the interests of their members. That's part of the freedom of association we enjoy. Are really suggesting that teachers' unions should not act in the interests of their members (which admittedly do not completely match those of the public at large but significantly overlap it)? That they should accept a shitty deal that's potentially unconstitutional rather than use the courts (again, institutions we have to resolve competing interests in a free and democratic society) to protect their interests? Because the seems to be what your conclusions imply.
posted by Kurichina at 8:16 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


No wonder these Neanderthal public unions are loosing public support.

Are you pissed at the unions because your teachers never taught you the difference between loose and lose?

Public sector unions are the only thing protecting teachers from bean counting bureaucrats cutting 5% off everyone in the sector's wages to make the budget balanced.
posted by Talez at 8:22 AM on August 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's the same, right down to passing a blatantly unconstitutional bill that will take effect now, gutting the teachers union's powers, that will get fought in court and torn up in ten years.

I don't think the government gives a shit that the back-to-work legislation for teachers is un-constitutional, and will be found to be un-constitutional.

It was a tactical move - it takes a lot of money to take the government to court, money that the BCTF does not have, or could be better spent elsewhere. It also takes a lot of time - years and years and years.

As I've remarked in other threads, it's surprising and depressing how cynical the BC government acted towards teachers, especially "happy warrior" George Abbott.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:38 AM on August 31, 2012


My problem with this legislation is that, out of the three main parties involved: provincial government, school boards, and teachers' unions, only the school boards have a mandate to act in the interest of the students, and their power to do that has been eroded considerably.
posted by rocket88 at 9:48 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not just the teachers McGuinty is targeting - this article says the rest of the public service is next. As a unionized provincial employee, I'm not looking forward to this.
posted by barnoley at 10:00 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Critics have called the PSF Act "unconstitutional" and "unprecedented" on the grounds that it puts itself above judicial review: no "decision, approval, act, advice, direction, regulation or order made by the Minister or Lieutenant Governor in Council under this Act shall be questioned or reviewed in any court.". This includes challenges under the Labour Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which otherwise enshrine collective bargaining as a right.

Good luck with that. Such language is obviously blatantly unconstitutional. I'm in awe a minority government would take such a path. And even though busting up the unions would align with the goal os the PCs I'm amazed they'd back such language. It's a fantastically powerful two edged sword.
posted by Mitheral at 10:13 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a relatively left-wing resident of Ontario, with many friends who are teachers. Very good teachers — I respect what they do.

And I probably reflect the views of the general population in thinking (senior) teachers are overpaid … many uncaring and burned out teachers seem to have guaranteed jobs ... the union has won privileges that can't be afforded or defended (one example: 20 bankable sick days a year, paid out on retirement — the proposal is to reduce this to 10) ... and seniority often trumps fairness to younger teachers, quality of education and common sense.

The bill may well have to be revised to survive a court challenge, but I think the (minority) government will have wide support on its aims.
posted by namasaya at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Again, this is from the BC Liberals playbook, who in their back-to-work legislation included pieces permitting them to ignore all LRB and judicial rulings from the past ten years, and saying much the same thing for new decisions going forward.

As KokuRyu observed, this is a tactic to tie the unions up in court for years, draining their coffers.

The sameness is astonishing. Did some right wing think tank publish a paper or something?

My wife pointed out that I was wrong above. It's not 4 liberals who are declining to run again in 2013 as of last week. It's 10.
posted by fatbird at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


the union has won privileges that can't be afforded or defended (one example: 20 bankable sick days a year, paid out on retirement

What's the context of these privileges though? Here in BC, the teacher's union has accepted wage freezes for the last 15 years in exchange for labour protections and deferred compensation, which is what that "paid out on retirement" clause is. The BCTF has explicitly argued to its members that it's protecting their pensions by sacrificing cost of living raises.

The sucker's game is to do this, and then watch subsequent government strip "privileges that can't be afforded or defended". It's to the point where my wife and I are questioning whether or not her pension can factor into our retirement planning because we're not sure it's going to be there.
posted by fatbird at 10:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Essential services" legislation is Canada's union-busting trick, a far cry from "at-will" labour laws but we're getting there. One of the most cynical moves by the federal government this year was using this legislation against the CP Rail strike, just because they could. Basically, any union powerful enough to actually wield bargaining clout is now considered a threat to the economy and will be promptly declawed.
posted by mek at 1:18 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


The BC education system has been hilariously mismanaged by the Liberals, I'll add. One of the nastiest things they pulled was extending the province-wide crown corporation carbon neutral mandate to school districts. This required all schools in BC to buy carbon offsets (from one and only one company, Pacific Carbon Trust) to achieve carbon neutral status, and they had to do it within their existing operating budgets! (PDF)
posted by mek at 1:25 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, the Pacific Carbon Trust is such a fucking joke, and such a fucking scam.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:26 PM on August 31, 2012


We should just fire all public school teachers and replace them with temporary guest workers from the Philippines and Bangladesh who get paid minimum wage. We can work them for 80 hours a week, pay them for 40, no sick days, no benefits, then we can deport them after the school year is over.

Then we can use the poor quality of public schools as an excuse to slash funding, and bring in an inadequate voucher program. Victory!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:42 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ugh, first post jitters and lack of coffee made me type "Laura Broten" when it should be Laurel. I must have been thinking of Laura Roslin, another politician related to education ;) Sorry.

mek, "essential services" lose the right to strike, but they at least get to take their case to an arbitrator. This legislation, Bill 115, goes even beyond that. There is no recourse to either the Ontario Labour Relations Board or the Human Rights Tribunal, both of which "shall not inquire into or make a decision on whether a provision of this Act, a regulation or an order made under subsection 9 (2) is constitutionally valid or is in conflict with the Human Rights Code." (Section 14(1) and (2)). Of course, the Minister has given herself the power to complain to the OLRB if teachers aren't following the new law (Section 11).

This is just plain crazy. There should never be any law that is exempt from scrutiny. Like BC, I suspect the union will eventually win in court but it will take so long that McGuinty will be long gone by then and the government of the day will have to answer for it. In the meantime, resentment is building among teachers (including myself). Our unions offered a wage freeze and other ways of saving money, including taking over the benefits plan from the government. The government refused to negotiate, sent a letter to the school boards (our actual employers) telling them not to negotiate, and then a few weeks later reversed themselves and ordered boards to "negotiate"/impose this agreement on teachers in the dying days of summer under threat of legislation. The fix has been in from the start, and I can't understand how we got to the point where neither the employer (boards) or employees (education workers) wanted the government's interference and yet here they are.

It will be interesting to see how many teachers withdraw voluntary services. I am on the fence myself -- as much as I'd like to out of principle, I know kids are counting on me. It's a tough spot to be in.
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 2:19 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I probably reflect the views of the general population in thinking (senior) teachers are overpaid.

After 8 years of teaching I'm still making $20,000 less than in my last year at an ad agency, and I was not in a senior position. Overpaid, hardly. I'm not complaining though. I'm happy with my wage, but will be happier when I make it to the top of the pay scale. Even when I get there I'll still be making about 5000 less than I was 9 years ago.

the union has won privileges that can't be afforded or defended (one example: 20 bankable sick days a year, paid out on retirement

Just to add some much needed context, there is/was a limit to the number of days that could be banked and, In Ontario the unions accepted this benefit in lieu of a wage increase. So this is actually a double loss, not that the government is saying that of course. Finally the proposed 10 sick days are NOT bankable.
posted by trigger at 2:24 PM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sick days should never be bankable. If an unused sick day has value then it creates a disincentive to use it and results in more teachers coming in to work sick.
posted by rocket88 at 2:32 PM on August 31, 2012


rocket, the flip side of what you say is that it incentivizes not using sick days for minor illnesses, appointments, or just plain wanting a day off by calling in sick. Making them bankable isn't unproblematic, but it's not straightforwardly abusive. And as trigger mentions, this particular benefit was given in lieu of a wage increase... and now even left wingers like namasaya see it as an undeserved perq.

Man, what a bullshit tactic that is. From now on, unions should never accept wage freezes, because no one remembers that you sacrificed to get something else.
posted by fatbird at 2:37 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sick days should never be bankable. If an unused sick day has value then it creates a disincentive to use it and results in more teachers coming in to work sick.

I mostly agree with you. My point is, though, that I'm losing a benefit that my union accepted in lieu of a raise, and I'm getting nothing in return. In fact, if the government is to be believed, after this 2 year wage freeze is over, I'll be getting a decrease in my next contract.
posted by trigger at 2:41 PM on August 31, 2012


Sick days should never be bankable.

Another side of making them bankable is as my parents taught me: It's good to bank them up in case you have a severe illness and need to use them. It's a lot better to need two months off for surgery and recovery and have that covered by sick days, than to have to go on disability or go without pay.
posted by fatbird at 3:15 PM on August 31, 2012


There was a guy at Tuesday's rally with both a "negotiate, don't legislate" pin and a red square of cloth pinned to his shirt. Talk about not understanding how things work.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:42 PM on August 31, 2012


I'm an Ontario teacher was willing/happy to accept a wage freeze from the get-go. That was a pretty common sentiment in my office at school. The thing that gets me is the sick days. I came from private industry (IT) six years ago and thought that a retirement payout was too much and still do. But everyone, not just teachers, needs to be able to accumulate sick days, year over year, up to some reasonable maximum in order to be able to make it through surgery, extended illness (chemotherapy anyone?), or just to bridge into medium or long term disability.

Also, schools are germ factories, man. High school where I teach is bad enough. Elementary school? Shiver.
posted by kaymac at 4:04 PM on August 31, 2012


many uncaring and burned out teachers seem to have guaranteed jobs

I suspect "seem" is the operative word here. Is this a genuine significant problem? Are most of your teachers uncaring and burnt out? Or are there a few that have created enough anecdotal evidence to generate a "welfare queen" style straw man?

If it a situation where its a small number of teachers with poor attitude and work ethic, address those teachers. In my experience, there's dozens of ways of addressing a poor employee - even in a union shop - that don't involve screwing everybody. Thinking you have to screw everybody to address a few bad apples sounds like poor ("I don't want to talk to that person") management or evil ("let's convince people our teacher suck so we can screw them") management.

My straw men are in the parenthesis.

Anyhow, the 21st century North American "education is the most important thing for our children and that's why we should spend as little money on school as possible" thing continues to blow my mind. How did we reach the point, as a pair of societies, where we in the U.S. and Canada collectively started to feel like adequate public education wasn't necessary for the public good?
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:17 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's a problem when teachers retire and receive a pension, and then go back and work as teachers-on-call, double-dipping as it were.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:02 PM on August 31, 2012


But everyone, not just teachers, needs to be able to accumulate sick days, year over year, up to some reasonable maximum in order to be able to make it through surgery, extended illness (chemotherapy anyone?), or just to bridge into medium or long term disability.

Re: sick days, I believe the agreement the government signed with OECTA (and which is a model for the broader teacher legislation) is similar to the Ontario Public Service system: you get 6 non-accumulating sick days at full pay, and up to 124 sick days per year at 75% salary. While it may not be ideal, I know many people who have been okay with this during surgeries. We are able to use 1/4 of a vacation day to bump up to full pay if desired.

Personally this doesn't bother me at all. I'm mainly concerned about the idea of legislating an "agreement" that basically strips the right to collectively bargain.
posted by barnoley at 6:31 PM on August 31, 2012


There was a guy at Tuesday's rally with both a "negotiate, don't legislate" pin and a red square of cloth pinned to his shirt. Talk about not understanding how things work.

I'm not sure I understand your comment.

The students in Quebec were both negotiating and striking. The Quebec government was legislating, and IMHO not really negotiating. ... ?
posted by chapps at 7:05 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just for a little perspective, keep in mind that attacking the unions -- ALL unions -- is a critical part of the plan (PDF) for the federal Conservative Party of Canada. Their plan is to paint the "NDP and big union bosses" as one and the same. They boast about their back-to-work legislation. They tie their anti-labour Bill C-377 (an act to force disclosure of union finances to their corporate opponents) and "Fair Wages Act" (which could reduce construction workers' wages to one-third of the prevailing rate on federal government jobs) to immigration "reform", which among other things has included recent policies to deny medical assistance to refugee claimants.

The Liberals in Ontario apparently like that plan so much, they bought it. The Putting Students First Act is the most recent installment, and they are using their Conservative fellow travelers to push it through. The moral? Don't expect the Liberals to be liberal when in government.
posted by dmayhood at 7:44 PM on August 31, 2012


Bankable sick days were given to teachers many years ago in exchange for a wage freeze. Now they want to take them away with nothing in return.

I am a teacher in Ontario and will be withdrawing many of the "extras" that have attached themselves to my job if and when this legislation passes. This events of this summer have been a nice reminder that in many ways it is "just a job" and I should be focusing my efforts where they matter the most - in my classroom.

I have voted Liberal as long as I have been able to vote - and I have worked on campaigns and donated money. Never again.
posted by davey_darling at 8:44 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


People in Ontario should keep in mind that the Liberals here have made a conscious, sustained effort to gut the civil service since assuming office in 2001. We've gone from 30,000+ provincial employees to 25,000. Here is one of the results of that sustained effort.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I understand your comment.

The students in Quebec were both negotiating and striking.


Well, actually, the students in Quebec were not striking, and were not capable of striking, because they were not employees. They may have been refusing to go to class, but it's not a strike in any sense of the word.

Granted, he wasn't teaching in the post-secondary world, but expecting students to pay in less, and teachers/professors to be paid more, and that not to cause a problem, just because? That's Paul Ryan math.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:02 AM on September 1, 2012


(Just to be clear—I think this move by the government is short-sighted and wrong-headed, but wearing a red square during a protest over teachers' wages is a good indicator that you don't know where your paycheck comes from.)
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:05 AM on September 1, 2012


There is not a government in power in Canada presently not drunk at the neoliberal union-busting, public-sector-attacking trough. Corporatist framing has won politics; I regularly hear normal citizens complaining about the unfairness of the differences in pay, benefits, time off and such between unionized and non-unionized employees, and treating this as a reason to dislike unions. They're greedy, see, for having what we have lost. So let's make sure we undermine their ability to do so.

It just makes me tired and sad to be here. As usual, the only consolation is the cold comfort of "comparing ourselves to the US and being thankful it's not worse".
posted by ead at 12:38 AM on September 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Students paying less and teachers being paid more is only a math problem if you're working from the assumption that students should be paying the full cost of their education. If, instead, you believe that higher education is valuable to society, much like high school education is, and that society should be picking up the tab through taxes, you have no math problem at all.

You have a political problem, because getting re-elected while raising taxes is a challenge, but not a math problem.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:51 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


getting re-elected while raising taxes is a challenge

I wonder, honestly, how true this still is in North America. I would be fascinated to see a candidate call their opponent's bluff on this. Hypothetical platform:
  1. I am going to raise taxes to pay for all the stuff we're currently either not paying for, and is falling apart, or paying for through debt.
  2. I'll raise them via the usual "progressive taxation" scheme whereby higher-earners and corporations pay more than individuals and especially the poor.
  3. There's no evidence from high-tax jurisdictions that this crashes economic activity; good infrastructure tends to promote efficient business operation, especially those involved in long-term business (not short-term financial games).
  4. Paying for things as a single buyer with immense buying power means we can avoid a whole lot of market failures and amortize costs over the a long time horizon and the scope of an entire national economy.
  5. This is the only reasonable way to balance a budget and keep things we think of as important.
  6. I'm doing so because offloading problems on my kids, or your kids, feels pretty irresponsible.
  7. My opponent has no plan to actually pay for anything. They're trying to give you something for nothing. It's how we got into this mess.
It's been such a long time since anyone even had the gall to say such things in public, I wonder if it might actually come across as refreshing. I think at least part of why people vote for the "small government right-wing maverick" persona is because they are tired of hearing "we can have it all at no cost" from the centrists, and at least value the honesty implied by someone saying that we have to make tradeoffs and cut stuff if we're not going to pay for it. But I haven't seen anyone dare to suggest paying for things by ... actually paying for them, in quite a while. Is it really still electoral death?

I guess it would cost / risk a political career to run the experiment.
posted by ead at 10:17 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is basically the Green Party platform, which I find pretty reasonable and not at all shy about raising taxes to pay for things. It's the NDP who are the real cowards on this issue, that basically adopt the neoliberal approach to taxes wholesale, preserving all the changes the Conservatives have made, while showering voters with additional tax credits, despite their supposed socialism. They even go so far as to say they will "reward the job creators" by keeping corporate taxes ultra-low.

It's depressing how close their platform is to the Tories now.
posted by mek at 10:44 AM on September 2, 2012


That is basically the Green Party platform

Mhm. I've voted Green the times when I perceived this to be true (or was in a riding w/o need of strategic-voting help); but they remain very small so subject to dramatic policy swings. I thought they were swinging hard to the Blue-Green / Eco-Capitalist model lately, which rubs me pretty hard the wrong way.
posted by ead at 11:00 AM on September 2, 2012


If, instead, you believe that higher education is valuable to society, much like high school education is, and that society should be picking up the tab through taxes, you have no math problem at all.

Belief that higher education is valuable to society does not require believing that students need not make any financial contribution toward it. Asking adults who are receiving something of considerable value to pay less than a fifth of the cost is not unreasonable. Tuition fees in Quebec are dwarfed by living expenses for students who have gone away to school, anyway.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:18 PM on September 2, 2012


Students do make a financial contribution--about 25% of Canadians go to university. And due to their increased earnings they pay 44% of the federal tax collected (this stat is from the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies pre-budget consultation for 2013 budget.

I'm in the tax me its worth it crowd. The Quebec students tuition covers about 13 or 14% of the university budget. Which is the same as when I went to school in 1988-1990 in BC and our tuition was highest in Canada. I figure I had my subsidy, time for me to pay the piper, not reduce my contribution when others can benefit.

Certainly the same plan needn't be used to charge higher taxes of those who haven't had my advantages...progressive taxation will do the trick, or even targetted taxation of graduates.
posted by chapps at 12:35 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


And btw thanks for explaining what you meant by your comment, one more dead town's last parade.
posted by chapps at 12:36 AM on September 3, 2012


I think it's a problem when teachers retire and receive a pension, and then go back and work as teachers-on-call, double-dipping as it were.

I'm not sure why that's necessarily a problem. Substitute teaching income is not a replacement for pension income and there isn't any significant different between a retired teacher taking a day's pay as a sub and retired bureaucrats and private sector workers taking consulting gigs while earning their pensions. (Also very common.) Or, for a less common example, a former MP collecting their pension (immediately after defeat, not waiting until they are 65 or any other specific age) while working full time.

It's not really "double-dipping" either, as there are tax and pension implications for earning extra income while on pension. My mother (a retired teacher) purposely limits the number of days she comes in as a substitute teacher for this reason. (There's sufficient demand in her city that if she accepted enough offers, she could be working every school day.)
posted by Kurichina at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2012


Kurichina writes "I'm not sure why that's necessarily a problem."

It limits the work available for new graduates.
posted by Mitheral at 6:00 PM on September 4, 2012


Rephrasing : it's not a problem unique to the teaching profession. (The issue of competition between different generations of workers is a bit larger than the scope of this thread as defined by the OP.)
posted by Kurichina at 5:31 AM on September 5, 2012


That is basically the Green Party platform

Not quite. Their "pollution taxes" will have a higher relative impact on low income earners, and their support of income splitting will overwhelmingly benefit the rich. Their overall economic policy needs a lot of work if they want to claim any leftist cred.
posted by rocket88 at 10:06 AM on September 5, 2012


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